Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes has delivered another exceptional ride at the Dakar Rally today, placing third on stage four, despite opening much of the special. The American’s impressive performance has elevated him from fourth to second in the provisional overall standings. Luciano Benavides placed an excellent sixth on today’s stage and continues to increase his pace and move up the leaderboard where he now lies ninth.
It was another challenging day in the desert for all competitors at the 2023 Dakar Rally. With yesterday’s rain making the dunes tougher to ride through and even more unpredictable, riders had to focus for 100 percent of today’s 425-kilometre timed special. As the second rider into that special, Skyler Howes was among the first to experience the tough conditions. But as he has demonstrated so far during this year’s event, he’s more than capable of navigating his way smoothly through any terrain.
Catching the one rider starting ahead of him, Howes was then joined by another, and the three of them rode in a group up to the refuelling point – all collecting bonus time for opening the stage. A large crash in the second half of the special knocked Skyler’s confidence a little, but the #10 was able to maintain a solid pace to the finish to ultimately secure his top-three result. After four stages, Howes’ consistency is paying off as the FR 450 Rally rider now lies second overall in the provisional standings, three and a half minutes down on the leader.
Luciano Benavides is also showing great speed over the varied conditions seen at this 45th running of the Dakar Rally. Taking his time to build his confidence and pace, while ensuring no major mistakes are made with his navigation, Benavides delivered his best result of the race so far today, finishing the physically demanding stage in sixth place. The result moves the Argentinian up to ninth in the overall standings.
Skyler Howes: “That one was tough. I caught up to Sanders around kilometre 100, and Mason (Klein) caught up as well, so the three of us were fighting at the front to open the stage. It was a super-fun day in the morning – the dunes were really wet, but then softer on the top, and I actually went over the bars a couple of times, which isn’t great. I led into the refuelling and then after that I had a really big crash in a section of rocks. We were searching to find the correct way and I must have just clipped one and it sent me sideways. Thankfully Sanders was close by and helped me up. After that I found it hard to find my rhythm for a good while, I was riding like a zombie. But then towards the end I found my focus and was able to navigate well to the finish. I need a little rest now, but I’m happy with how things are going overall.”
Luciano Benavides: “Day four in the books, but it feels more like day 10! No, I’m super happy to finish another stage in one piece with no crashes and no big mistakes. It was a crazy stage again with a lot of fast, off-piste sections. The top 10 guys are pushing like hell every day, so you need to do the same if you’re going to remain in the race. I think I did a good job, my pace is good, my results are improving day-by-day, and I’m feeling healthy and strong. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 4 Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 4:28:18
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 4:28:34
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 4:29:23
4. Toby Price (KTM) 4:30:42
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 4:30:55
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 4:31:31
2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 4]
1. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 18:40:03
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 18:43:36
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 18:44:08
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 18:44:33
5. Toby Price (KTM) 18:47:20
6. Mason Klein (KTM) 18:50:08
9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 19:01:19