World Rally-Raid Championship

Benavides, Van Beveren enter Enduro del Verano over Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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Credit: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Although the World Rally-Raid Championship is set for its second round of 2024 with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge beginning Sunday, some regulars will be in Argentina instead. Defending champion Luciano Benavides and Adrien Van Beveren plan to race this weekend’s Enduro del Verano, while Kevin Benavides will also be present for an exhibition alongside his younger brother.

Although Luciano won the W2RC in 2023, his Husqvarna Racing team as well as Kevin’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing did not sign up for the 2024 championship as part of increasing budget cuts. The brothers, who hail from Argentina, make every effort to show up to national enduro events like the Enduro del Verano though they have mostly hosted exhibition shows on their rally bikes rather than actually taking part. Their exhibition will take place before the main race on Sunday afternoon, the same day as the ADDC’s Prologue stage.

At the W2RC season-opening Dakar Rally in January, Kevin finished fourth overall while Luciano was seventh. Kevin, the 2021 and 2023 Dakar victor, claimed three stage wins.

KTM’s absence from the W2RC also means Kevin’s team-mates Toby Price and Matthias Walkner are not in Abu Dhabi. Walkner was not going to race anyway as he continues to recover from a severe foot injury he sustained while testing for the Dakar in December, while Price is preparing for SCORE International’s San Felipe 250 in March.

Unlike KTM and Husqvarna, Van Beveren’s Monster Energy Honda Rally Team is eligible for W2RC points but has opted to skip Abu Dhabi as their six riders are “fully deserving of some rest and recuperation” after Dakar. Honda dominated the Dakar, winning seven of twelve stages and Ricky Brabec won the overall; Van Beveren won two stages and placed third. While Honda hoped to give the riders a break before returning at the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in April, many are still staying busy in the meantime like Van Beveren, who is seeking his third EDV title after 2013 and 2015. Last weekend, his team-mate Tosha Schareina won the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup season opener in Osaka, Japan.

The absence of all three teams, as well as those like GasGas and Sherco, means the top-level RallyGP category will only have four entries for the ADDC. Hero MotoSports is the only factory programme represented, which Dakar runner-up Ross Branch hopes to capitalise upon to take the points lead from Brabec.

The Enduro del Verano, held in Villa Gesell, is the second round of the FIM Sand Races World Cup. The 2024 season began two weeks prior with the Enduropale du Touquet in France; fellow rally raider and current Rally2 points leader Romain Dumontier, who is also skipping Abu Dhabi, retired after a lap with a mechanical issue.

Like the W2RC, the Sand Races World Cup is overseen by the FIM’s Cross-Country Commission.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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