Skyler Howes takes provisional lead at Rallye Du Maroc

Skyler Howes has placed fourth on today’s second stage of the 2022 Rallye du Maroc. Finishing just over three minutes behind the day’s winner, Howes’ result moves him into the provisional lead of the third round of the 2022 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Luciano Benavides also impressed on today’s 435-kilometre stage, completing the timed special in ninth, just over nine minutes down.

With today’s stage leading riders south from Tan-Tan to Laayoune, organisers delivered a long, 315-kilometre timed special that included some very demanding navigation, as well as the familiar mixture of terrain seen at the Moroccan event.

Early on in the day, Skyler Howes made the best use of his start position to make up time and catch the riders ahead. With the timed special consisting of a number of varied terrains with very tricky navigation, and with times across the top-10 riders proving to be very close, even just a small mistake could prove costly. Skyler moved into the stage lead on time at around kilometre 87 and maintained that position for much of the day. Falling foul of a particularly difficult to find waypoint, Skyler, and the group he was riding with, ended up losing several minutes to the chasing pack. However, with many riders suffering the same fate, Howes was able to regroup to finish his stage in a strong fourth place.

With his teammate taking over the rally lead, Luciano Benavides also showed excellent pace on today’s stage. After being caught by Skyler around one third of the way into the special, Benavides was able to match the pace of those around him and indeed opened a good section of the route. Completing the day in ninth place, nine minutes and 13 seconds behind the stage winner, Luciano now lies in third place overall, three minutes and forty-two seconds behind his teammate and provisional rally leader, Howes.

Tuesday's stage three of the Rallye du Maroc, a looped stage based around the city of Laayoune, totals 322 kilometres with a timed special of 299 kilometres.

Skyler Howes: “I’m pleased with how I rode today – the bike is excellent and I’m happy with my navigation the whole way through the stage. The organisers really challenged us all today with some difficult to find waypoints and I think it was a tough day for everyone on the whole. There were some tracks with a waypoint at the end that were especially hard to find. The wind had hidden the tracks so much that it was really tricky to know if you were in the right place. After that we hit the dunes and that was also a real challenge. They were super soft, but there had been some rain too that made them extra difficult to ride. We were in a group of four when we got there and each of us took it in turns to open. With all the challenges, I’m happy to complete the stage with a good result, so now we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Luciano Benavides: “Day two is in the books. A really good day, but a tough one for sure. I started off second and caught Ross (Branch) after a little while and ended up opening the faster pistes myself. After the refuelling we were in a group of four, including Skyler, and all of us led out a little. At one point one of the waypoints didn’t validate for me, so I had to turn around to get it. I was able to push and catch up with the others soon after in the dunes. Having the chance to open and still make up good time is really important for my confidence, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and hopefully I can keep this momentum.”

2022 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 2 Provisional Classification

1. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 3:18:44
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:21:38
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:21:45
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:21:56
5. Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:23:57
6. Toby Price (KTM) 3:24:49
9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:27:57

2022 Rallye du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification (after stage 2)

1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 8:12:44
2. Toby Price (KTM) 8:14:24
3. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 8:16:26
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 8:16:43
5. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 8:17:06
6. Ross Branch (Hero) 8:17:17