Luciano Benavides secured his third Dakar stage win of 2023 on Thursday as the Husqvarna team hit the front once again.
While KTM’s Kevin Benavides was in control of Wednesday’s podium, it was younger brother Luciano’s turn in the spotlight for Stage 11 after a 274km special. Red Bull GasGas and KTM riders Daniel Sanders and Toby Price completed the top three but with fellow Husky Skyler Howes placing fourth, the American returns to the top of the standings - just 28 seconds ahead of Price - with three days left of competition.
“Today was another really fast day,” Benavides said immediately after completing the stage. “I enjoyed it a lot in the Empty Quarter.
“I like this kind of stage. I pushed all day long in the dunes. It feels like motocross, so I like it a lot. It was a really fun day and I think I got a good result as well. I don’t know if I won, but I think for sure that I’m in the top 3.
“It was hard to read the tracks, but of course I wasn’t in the starting position, so I had plenty of lines in front. You always need to be really careful with the holes, because there were many holes in the sand. I missed a few and nothing happened, I didn’t crash.
“Luckily, there are no issues with the bike,” the 27-year-old continued. “I was trying to take care of it and not crash, no big impacts for the wheels and for the rest, so it looks like everything is ok for tomorrow. I think it wasn’t ideal to win today, but if I have, I feel really confident with my navigation, like I did yesterday opening all the stage, so if I have to do that, then of course I’m happy to be here and if I’ve won my third stage it will be incredible.”