Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes has claimed second overall at the 2021 Silk Way Rally, thanks in part to a strong performance on the fifth and final stage. The result moves the American up to second in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship standings. Luciano Benavides completed stage five in eighth place, taking seventh in the overall rally standings.
Coming into the final day of racing at the Silk Way Rally in second overall, Skyler Howes held a narrow 49-second advantage over the third-placed rider. With the timed special being a repeat of day two, and navigation therefore being less of a challenge, times across the leading riders were extremely close with the top five split by less than three minutes.
Aiming to defend his position, yet not wanting to make a costly mistake on the fast tracks of the special, Howes chose the perfect pace over the 110km timed section to ultimately finish fourth on the stage and claim second overall in the final rally standings.
Despite having a technical issue on the previous round of the series that knocked him down the order, his second-place result from the Silk Way Rally elevates Skyler to second overall in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. With the team contesting two further races in the series – Morocco and Abu Dhabi – the American star is still very much in the running for the championship title.
Bringing his FR 450 Rally home safely in eighth place on today’s stage five, Luciano Benavides secured seventh overall in the rally standings. Continuing to find his pace and rhythm after the crash that forced him to withdraw from this year’s Dakar Rally, the young Argentinian can take several positives from the Silk Way Rally, having ridden to five consistently fast stage results, well inside the top 10. Now, with a three-month break until the team contest the Rallye du Maroc, Luciano hopes to further improve his feeling on the bike, and work on his navigation skills on the run up to the final two rounds of the world championship.
Skyler Howes: “To get second place and my first podium at a world championship round is amazing. I was hoping for a slightly longer race, and maybe another step higher on the podium, but I can’t tell you how stoked I am to finish as runner-up. Things went well over the whole race and in the end, it came down to just seconds on the final stage. Thankfully, I had a really good ride and was able to defend my position in the standings. The result here moves me up to second in the championship standings, which after my issues in the first round feels amazing. We’ve got a bit of a break now until the next race, but to be in the fight for the championship only gives me more motivation. I definitely can’t wait to get racing again.”
Luciano Benavides: “I’m happy to finish the final stage and complete another rally. Today’s special was really fast with virtually no navigation at all – you didn’t really have to check the road book. I aimed for another solid result today to guarantee a safe finish to the race. I know my pace and result isn’t quite where I want it to be, but this rally has been great for building my confidence up and to get another finish is really important. I know what I need to work on now, so hopefully I can come back stronger at the next round.”
Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “I’m really happy for Skyler claiming second place. He had some bad luck in Rally Kazakhstan and because of that he had to open the first day here at Silk Way. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the rally had run to the full 10 days, but after it was cut, he did a really good job to take back the time lost. Second in the race and second in the championship is really exciting, especially as Skyler has become comfortable very quickly on the new bike and that puts us in a really good situation for the rest of the championship. Luciano has secured another rally finish, which is hugely important for him after several crashes, including the one at Dakar. His pace is improving, as is his confidence, so I believe with some more work he can return to the form he expects at the next round of the championship.”
2021 Silk Way Rally – Stage 5Provisional Classification
1. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:04:05
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 1:05:21
3. Franco Caimi (Hero) 1:06:11
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:06:54
5. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 1:06:54
6. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 1:07:08
8. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:07:32
2021 Silk Way Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 5)
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 6:19:18
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 6:25:38
3. Franco Caimi (Hero) 6:25:44
4. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 6:26:37
5. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 6:29:36
6. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 6:36:57
7. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 6:38:08
2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – Provisional Standings (after round 2)
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 57.5 points
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 36 pts
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 32.5 pts
4. Franco Caimi (Hero) 32 pts
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 31 pts
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 23.5 pts