World Rally-Raid Championship

2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Kevin Benavides to miss ADDC after breaking femur in testing

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Credit: Luciano Benavides

World Rally-Raid Championship RallyGP points leader and Dakar Rally winner Kevin Benavides will not take part in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after breaking his femur during shakedown on Wednesday. He was airlifted to Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai where a two-hour surgery on Thursday was successful.

Initial neurovascular assessments ruled he did not suffer serious damage to his blood vessels or nerves. He is expected to be discharged later after a few days of recovery depending on his health.

Benavides had been testing with many of his fellow RallyGP riders including younger brother Luciano Benavides, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Toby Price, and Luciano’s Husqvarna Factory Racing colleague Skyler Howes. Said peers eventually visited him in the hospital.

“Definitely a tough moment yesterday but very glad that we got help to him quickly and after a successful surgery this morning he’s on the road to recovery,” posted Howes on social media. “Thankful for your friendship buddy and looking forward to having you healed up and ready to battle on the race track soon.”

Benavides holds the early advantage in the top bike category after winning the Dakar Rally for the second time, leading the W2RC standings with thirty-eight points and an eight-point advantage over Price and fourteen on Howes. The three battled for the overall win throughout the two-week season opener, with Price and Howes being the main favourites before Benavides won the final two stages to secure the victory by just forty-three seconds.

“Yesterday was a very sad day for the whole team with our top Dakar Rally rider having a crash and breaking his femur,” said Red Bull KTM Factory Racing manager Norbert Stadlbauer. “After winning the Dakar and leading the points standings in the world championship, Kevin was preparing to take on round two of the series and hopefully secure another outstanding result. Thankfully, it looks like the surgery went well and Kevin has already begun his road to recovery.

“Unfortunately, this accident demonstrates the incredible highs and lows we sometimes see in our sport. But we of course wish him the very best, from myself and the whole team, and hope to see him back aboard his KTM 450 Rally as soon as possible.”

Daniel Sanders, who briefly led the Dakar overall, is also skipping Abu Dhabi due to injury sustained in the opener as is Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner, whom Benavides assisted en route to his Dakar Stage #13 win. Absences are also predominant in other W2RC classes like Rally2 leader Romain Dumontier and third-placed Michael Docherty, the latter of whom is nursing a wrist injury. Unlike in RallyGP, the Rally2 riders are permitted to drop their worst result or a skipped round from their championship total.

With Benavides out, the RallyGP entry list for Abu Dhabi totals twelve. Reigning winner Sam Sunderland and Ricky Brabec return after getting hurt in crashes at Dakar.

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