|HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING GEARS UP FOR 2024 DAKAR RALLY
|REIGNING FIM WORLD RALLY-RAID WORLD CHAMPION LUCIANO BENAVIDES SET TO TAKE ON 46TH EDITION OF WORLD’S TOUGHEST RALLY-RAID
Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides is all set to race the 2024 Dakar Rally, starting on January 5 in Saudi Arabia. The 46th edition of the event is billed to be one of the most challenging to date, with nearly 5,000 kilometres of timed specials and a new 48-hour stage designed to push riders and teams to the limit.
After clinching the world championship title in 2023, Luciano is eager to keep his positive momentum going as he heads into the 2024 Dakar. At the 2023 event, the Argentinian won three stages and finished sixth overall, matching his career-best result from 2020.
Going on to claim four podiums on his FR 450 Rally in 2023, Luciano had a stellar rally-raid season. At the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge he placed second after a tough race through the UAE desert. At the Sonora Rally in Mexico, Benavides once again finished on the podium, this time in third place.
Luciano dedicated himself to extensive testing and training with the team during the long summer break. That hard work paid off, with the 28-year-old securing a second-place finish at his home race in Argentina – the Desafio Ruta 40. A fourth podium result at the final round of the championship, the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco, ensured the Husqvarna Factory Racing star was crowned world champion. Overall, Benavides claimed an impressive 10 stage wins across the five-round season.
Heading into 2024, and fired up by his championship win, Luciano is looking to improve on his previous Dakar results and finish on the podium to ensure a strong start to the new season.
Hosted in Saudi Arabia for the fifth time, the Dakar Rally begins on January 5 in the city of AlUla. This year’s edition of the 14-stage event will present riders with plenty of new challenges, namely in the form of the 48-hour ‘Chrono Stage’, which is the revamped marathon stage. With 60 percent of the 2024 route covering brand-new territory in Saudi, navigation skills will be more crucial than ever.
Luciano Benavides: “I was 14 years old when I realised I wanted to be a Dakar rider. I remember watching the Dakar in Salta, seeing all the top guys race so close to my home was a crazy experience. When I watched that day, I was still riding enduro at the time and I remember saying that I wanted to race rally one day – and now I’m here! The Dakar is such a cool adventure for 15 days, where you have to be fully prepared for everything – happy, sad, tired, hungry – some days you just don’t want to race again and your emotions go up and down. But when you’re feeling on top, that’s what you want to get back to. You go through so much and feel so much in just one Dakar that you would need 10 years to fit it all in any other way. It’s a race that makes you a better person both physically and mentally. Last year’s Dakar gave me a lot of confidence and motivation to know that I have what it takes to win. Winning stage six was something that changed my mind and perspective on racing and confirmed to me that to be a Dakar champion is my dream. Every day, I wake up and think about it! Riding for Husqvarna is really important to me, it’s a brand that I love, from the team to the bike. I will do my best to achieve my dream and make it a reality as it’s something I’ve prepared for my whole life.”
Andreas Hölzl – Rally Team Manager: “To win the world championship with Luciano this year was incredible! Now, heading into Dakar 2024, Luciano has been looking super-fast in the testing sessions, his speed is incredible and he’s clearly very confident on the bike. He has made a big step forward on his technical riding, so with the confidence from his world title behind him I think he can do really well at Dakar!”