Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides claimed his second stage victory of 2023’s Dakar after dominating Tuesday’s 358 km special.
With teammate and overall leader Skyler Howes completing the top three, three minutes behind his fellow FR 450 Rally rider, just KTM’s Toby Price challenged the Husqvarna pair for stage nine’s celebrations.
“My second stage victory – I cannot believe it, really,” Benavides admitted. “It’s been a tough Dakar already for me. Just two days ago I struggled a little bit and I lost some time but for the rest, I’ve been feeling really, really good.
“To win again is something amazing. To be honest, today was really, really dangerous. You had to take care all the time. I was behind Skyler after about 100 kms and from then on I rode with him. He did a really good job and I stayed on his wheel. It was really dangerous with many rocks. It was really, really tricky”.
“To be the first rider at this Dakar to win twice feels incredible,” the Argentinian continued. “It was a really hard stage with a lot of navigation – you really had to focus on your road book to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. There were a lot of broken tracks and different lines, so it was easy to take a slightly wrong line. Now I am opening the stage tomorrow, so it will be full gas all the way to the finish.”
“The stage today was pretty tricky,” Howes confirmed. “We hit a section where we were missing one waypoint and it was in a place deep with stones and a lot of mud. It was tough to navigate through there and I knew we were going off the CAP heading a little, so I had to circle around to get back on track.
“Luciano caught up with me then and riding together we really put the charge on, partly because I thought I had lost a lot more time than I had. We did a good job all the way from the refuelling to the finish.
“The ground out there was incredible – there’s been so much rain, in some places it was like riding through giant rivers. It’s been a challenging day and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come as we make our way to the end.”