Although the final stage of this year’s Dakar Rally was a long one, totalling 680 kilometres from Bisha to the finish in Jeddah, the special used to decide the final event placings was a relative sprint to the finish, totalling just 164 kilometres. As the 26th rider to enter the timed section, Benavides immediately got his head down and pushed hard right from the start.
With the special primarily made up of fast, sandy tracks, and navigation proving less of a challenge, times were extremely close at the sharp end of the timesheets. Coming in just less than three minutes behind the eventual stage winner, Luciano secured a strong result for the final stage and with it ended his 2022 Dakar on a high.
The impressive performance continued a strong run of form for Benavides who has gone from strength to strength in the second week of racing. Following a tricky start where he, like many of his rivals, lost time on the event’s opening stage, Luciano has delivered six top-10 stage results to fight his way back up the leaderboard. Completing the rally in 13th overall, the former FIM Cross-Country Rallies Junior World Champion is happy to finish a third Dakar Rally and now looks ahead to attacking the rest of the world championship.
Skyler Howes had also been showing incredible form at this year’s race when a crash on stage five forced him to withdraw from the event. After undergoing medical checks at the local hospital, the American was discharged and has since returned home where he will get some much-needed rest and recovery time before returning to competition later in the year.
Luciano Benavides: “I’m really happy to complete this year’s Dakar, it’s been a really tough event both mentally and physically. It was hard to lose time on the first stage, but since then I have been giving my all to work my way back up the standings. The bike has been great and with a few changes as the race has gone on, I’ve found a setting I feel comfortable with and because of that the results have been improving throughout the rally. Getting to the finish of such a long and intense event feels amazing. It would have been good to get inside the top 10 by the finish, but I’m still happy with my performance. The result and the finish have really improved my confidence and now I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and seeing what we can do in the world championship, before preparing for Dakar 2023.”
2022 Dakar Rally – Stage 12 Provisional Classification
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:40:00
2. Toby Price (KTM) 1:40:18
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 1:40:29
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 1:41:13
5. Mason Klein (KTM) 1:41:23
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:42:38
2022 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 12)
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 38:47:30
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 38:50:57
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 38:54:17
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 39:06:11
5. Joan Barreda (Honda) 39:13:12
6. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 39:25:36
13. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 34:16:17