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Hazards, blunders and blows are so frequent in the rally-raid discipline that they make all predictions risky. This rule is as valid a month before the Dakar as it is just the day before and is still rightly on everybody’s minds merely a few days before the finish.

This is evident to see from the bike rankings, in which the leader again changed today, with Kevin Benavides having only occupied the summit of the hierarchy for a day. The winner in 2021 was dethroned by Skyler Howes but is still in the reckoning for the title, trailing by only 2’44’’, though his team-mate at KTM Toby Price is even better placed, with a slim gap of merely 28’’. This closeness in the race against the clock among the elite has especially whetted the appetite of Luciano Benavides, who trailed behind his rivals during the first week due to several lost minutes, but is showing himself to be the man in form at present.

The Husqvarna rider gave a demonstration on the dunes of the Empty Quarter to become the first triple stage winner in the category this year and is beginning to get seriously close to the riders in front of him whose places are well within his reach.

The little brother has well and truly grown up and is now in 6th place, hot on the heels of Adrien Van Beveren, who made the day’s biggest losses and now has a gap of more than 15 minutes between himself and Skyler Howes, the other upwardly mobile official Husqvarna rider.