There was much for Husqvarna to celebrate on Friday as Luciano Benavides claimed his maiden Dakar stage victory.
Having started 12th, Benavides secured the 358 km special just shy of a minute over his nearest rival. Teammate Skyler Howes completing the fastest pairing to further extend his hold in the overall standings by three and a half minutes.
“I feel amazing, to take my first stage win at the Dakar means a lot to me,” Benavides confirmed. “It’s a really special day.
“I knew it would be really tight today, so I pushed a lot, right from the start. Everything went well, I gave my all, and I was able to post the fastest time. It means I’m opening tomorrow’s stage but I’m looking forward to it.” “I really enjoyed today,” Howes added. “The stage was actually really good fun as the dunes had plenty of traction and you could jump off the top of each one.
“I knew with the stage being a little shorter that times would be tight, but I just approached it like every day – do my best, try to minimise any mistakes, and try to stick to a good, solid pace.
“The fact that I’m leading the race wasn’t really on my mind, there is still along way to go yet. It’s been a long day, with a lot of seat time due to the liaisons, but I feel good, the bike is performing great and I’m ready for the first half of the marathon stage tomorrow.”