PM: Husqvarna, Sonora Rally



Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides are excited to return to FIM World Rally-Raid Championship action at round three of the series – the Sonora Rally in Mexico. Although the five-stage event is new to the championship and many of the riders, Howes returns as reigning champion having won the event last year and will be looking to use his experience to his advantage.

Runner-up at the Sonora Rally in 2021, Skyler went on to claim victory in 2022 and now looks forward to returning to Mexico and his ‘favourite event’ for round three of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Despite his experience of the race being an advantage over much of the field, the event promises new terrain in 2023 and Howes is fully aware of the challenge ahead. Currently lying fifth in the championship standings, the American is keen to improve on that position with a strong result next week.

Putting in two promising results already this season with a runner-up finish at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and a sixth-place finish at the Dakar, Luciano Benavides is keen to carry that momentum into Mexico and the Sonora Rally. Despite not having raced the event before, Benavides is confident of securing a strong result, and with the varied terrain similar to that seen in his native Argentina, the FR 450 Rally rider has his sights fixed firmly on the podium.

With its April date promising hot temperatures in the Sonoran Desert, the event’s five stages, covering over 2,000 kilometres, look set to challenge all competitors with a mixture of terrain that ranges from soft, rolling sand dunes and open beaches to rocky riverbeds and fast tracks. In total, 1,249 kilometres of timed special await the riders starting with stage one on Monday, April 24 through to the fifth and final stage on Friday, April 28.

Skyler Howes:“Sonora is where I got my start in rally, it’s also the reason I got to ride Dakar after winning the Dakar Challenge, so it holds a special place for me. It’s simply one of my favourite races ever. To be able to race across beaches and the other cool terrain and to have tacos in the bivouac is fantastic. I’m hoping that now it’s a world championship race it doesn’t lose too much of its charm, but I’m sure they’re still going to put on an epic event. I’m really excited to share a race I love so much with the rest of the world. It’s such a fun event for me, I’m going to treat it like any other race we do – enjoy the experience, race as hard as I can, and hopefully arrive at the finish in a good position. It’s going to be hot this year, which will add a bit more of a challenge this time, but I’m excited to be here with the whole team and ready to give it a go.”

Luciano Benavides:“It’s been a really good start to the season so far. I’ve had two good races and now heading into the Sonora Rally, I’m excited to keep my run of form going. I think it’s a new race for most of the world championship riders, but for me I’m really looking forward to it. There is a good mix of terrain and from what I have seen, a lot of it seems similar to back home in Argentina, so it should suit me well. This month I’ve been training a lot, physically and mentally, so my confidence is good and my feeling with the bike is really good. The team have done a fantastic job and have made some more changes to the bike, so hopefully we can benefit from them in Mexico. Really looking forward to getting started now.”

Text/Bild: Husqvarna