KTM’s Sam Sunderland has maintained his overall lead in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, finishing fifth at the end of the second day of competition.
Delivering the best result for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Luciano Benavides finished fourth fastest just over three minutes behind the day’s winner. Matching his fourth-place finish from the opening day, the 23-year-old successfully navigated his own way through the expansive dunes of the Liwa Desert. Ultimately, he posted a stage time of three-hours-and-16-minutes, less than four minutes from the stage winner. The Argentinian rider’s confidence continues to grow.
“It was a good day for me today. I rode alone for the whole stage so I was able to learn a lot about this desert and how to read the dunes,” said Benavides. “I was able to maintain a good rhythm and I’m not too far away from the top guys so I’m happy with that. My pace is getting better and that’s very encouraging for the days ahead. My plan is to continue like this without any mistakes and arrive healthy at the end.”
Of the 434.19 total kilometres travelled, 222.80 were timed special stage, guiding riders through the dunes of the Liwa Desert. Following on from his day one win, Sam Sunderland was the first to enter today’s stage. Navigating through the looped timed special that took riders around the Liwa oasis area, Sunderland led the majority of the route, only to be caught close to the finish. Despite the conditions being less than perfect, the 2017 Abu Dhabi winner showed excellent pace, posting the fifth fastest time for the day.
Stage three of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the longest of the rally, will cover 520.66km in total, of which 297.97km will be timed special stage in the dunes of the United Arab Emirates.
Provisional Results Stage Two – 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 3:13:21
2. Joan Barreda (SPA), Honda, 3:15:04 +1:43
3. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 3:16:19 +2:58
4. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:16:51 +3:30
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 3:19:16 +5:55
Provisional Overall Standings (after Stage Two) – 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 6:59:57
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 7:00:48 +0:51
3. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 7:04:09 +4:12
4. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 7:06:39 +6:42
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 7:20:17 +20:20