Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides has made a solid start to his 2022 Andalucia Rally, claiming fourth on the opening stage. The KTM 450 RALLY racer was the 10th rider into the stage but took the lead at the kilometer 34 waypoint and carried that advantage to the finish. Unfortunately, after being awarded a six-minute penalty for speeding, Benavides dropped three places to fourth.

Challenging riders right from the start, today’s stage one included a timed special of 315 kilometers raced against the clock. The special included terrain typical of the Spanish event, including rocky tracks and riverbeds, as well as a fast section through an olive plantation.

Finding the terrain very much to his liking, Kevin Benavides made the best use of his 10th place start position – earned on the event’s short prologue qualifier – to move into the lead early on in the special. Despite having to catch and pass several riders ahead of him, which meant racing through clouds of dust, the 2021 Dakar Champion was able to use his skill and experience to safely progress through the field to ultimately post the fastest stage time. However, due to exceeding the speed limit in a neutralized section of the stage, Benavides incurred a six-minute penalty that dropped him down the order to fourth.

Although disappointed with the final result, Kevin was pleased with his riding and the performance of his KTM 450 RALLY, and will now set off as the fourth rider into Friday’s stage two, with the main goal of making up the time lost.

Kevin Benavides: “That was a really good day for me. It was tough as we were racing for around four hours and the stage involved a lot of tricky navigation, but I think I did a good job. At the beginning we had to pick our way through the olive trees, so that was fun. I felt good on the bike and although the terrain here in Spain is quite tough and varied with lots of rivers, mountains, and slippery tracks, that all suits me and my riding style. The team are doing amazing work as always, but there is a long way to go, and it’s really demanding here because of the rocky terrain. Obviously, it’s a setback to receive the penalty, but I’ll conserve my energy for now and carry my speed and momentum into stage two tomorrow.”

The Andalucia Rally continues tomorrow with stage two, totaling 568-kilometers with a timed special of 228 kilometers.

Provisional Results – 2022 Andalucia Rally, Stage 1

1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 3:39:25
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 3:42:39 +3.14
3. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:42:54 +3.29
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:44:29 +5.04
5. Tosha Schareina (ESP), KTM, 3:46:30 +7.05

Provisional Standings – 2022 Andalucia Rally (after 1 of 5 stages)

1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 4:45:33
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 4:48:07 +2.34
3. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 4:49:26 +3.53
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 4:50:21 +4.48
5. Tosha Schareina (ESP), KTM, 4:52:46 +7.13