Luciano Benavides posted the fastest time on Friday’s 358-kilometer timed special to earn his first ever Dakar Rally stage win. Skyler Howes was second and increased his lead in the provisional overall standings to three and a half minutes. Howes started in fifth position with Honda riders Adrien Van Beveren and Nacho Cornejo in front. Cornejo had the best time in the early segments, with Howes taking over by km 84. Luciano Benavides started off as the 12th rider into the special, which allowed him to make up time on all the leaders. The day’s bonuses reward the first three riders to open the way over the first 206 kilometers before refueling. The bonuses can add up: 1.5 seconds’ per km for the first rider; 1 second per km for the second; 0.5 seconds per km for the third. As a result, the rider who opens the way from the start to refueling can receive 5’09’’ of bonuses. All that worked in the favor of the two Honda leaders, but opening is still tough. Cornejo was 8th and Van Beveren was 11th. Tomorrow is the 713-kilometer first half of the event’s marathon stage.

Luciano Benavides: “I feel amazing, to take my first stage win at the Dakar means a lot to me. 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.”

Skyler Howes stage 6

Skyler Howes: “I really enjoyed today. 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 minimize 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 a long 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.”

It was a rough stage physically for Mason Klein, who still finished twelfth. The young American rider is now in seventh place in the general rankings, twelve minutes behind the leader. “It was a really difficult day for me. It was cold and I struggled in the dunes. I fell twice. It’s the first time I’ve fallen since the start of the rally. It hurt bad. This special was horrible. From now on, I’m going to try and do my best taking it as easy as possible.”

Paul Neff

The five riders who comprise the American Rally Originals are featured in a video below. Paul Neff isn’t listed as an official finisher on stage 6, but isn’t listed as a withdrawal either. David Pearson, Ace Nilson and Kyle McCoy all were given max time penalties on the stage. We’re waiting to see how that works out.

For extended coverage of the 2023 Dakar Rally, click here.

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 6 Provisional Classification

1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:14:19
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:15:15
3. Toby Price (KTM) 3:16:39
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:16:48
5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:17:00
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:17:11
12. MASON KLEIN 3H 21′ 49”
26. JACOB ARGUBRIGHT (Hus) 3H 36′ 58”
55. PABLO COPETTI 4H 19′ 04”
73. PETR VLCEK 4H 49′ 51”
93. MORRISON HART (ARO) 5H 43′ 13′
99. JAMES PEARSON (ARO) 6H 50′ 07”
104. DAVID PEARSON (ARO) 45H 32′ 00”
106. LAWRENCE ACE NILSON (Hus) 45H 32′ 00”
111. KYLE MC COY (ARO) 45H 32′ 00”

2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 6]

1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 26:31:52
2. Toby Price (KTM) 26:35:23
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 26:38:53
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 26:42:49
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 26:44:12
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 26:44:14
7. Mason Klein (KTM)  26:44:38
9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 26:55:59
25. JACOB ARGUBRIGHT (Hus) 29H 52′ 31
46. PABLO COPETTI 34H 22′ 37”
61. PETR VLCEK 36H 24′ 12
92. JAMES PEARSON (ARO) 49H 33′ 32”
95 . MORRISON HART (ARO) 50H 30′ 45”
101. DAVID PEARSON (ARO) 79H 33′ 08
103. LAWRENCE ACE NILSON (Hus) 84H 03′ 53”
109. KYLE MC COY (ARO) 121H 15′ 00”


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