Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides have successfully completed stage one of the 2021 Silk Way Rally in eighth and 10th place respectively. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders faced an opening timed special of just 87km, which presented several challenges including tough navigation, and a mixture of terrain, as it wound its way through the Siberian forests close to the rally start in Omsk.
First to enter the timed special due to his final finishing position from round one of the championship, Skyler Howes soon found the stage to be more challenging than he first anticipated. Losing a couple of minutes to his rivals early on as he became accustomed to the event’s road book, Howes then stuck to a solid, but steady pace through the twisting forest tracks to ensure no further time was lost. Maintaining his eighth-place position to the finish, Skyler was pleased with his performance, but aware that he needs to deliver highly accurate navigation during the remaining nine days of racing.
Similarly to his teammate, Luciano Benavides lost several minutes early on when a navigational error caused him to choose the wrong route. Getting back on track, the Argentinian star found himself behind several other riders and unable to get past safely. Frustrated, Benavides arrived at the finish in 10th place, just under seven minutes down on the leader. However, although slightly disappointed to have lost time on stage one, Luciano enjoys an advantageous start position for Saturday’s stage two where he hopes to massively reduce the deficit to the leaders.
Setting off from the bivouac at Novosibirsk, stage two of the 2021 Silk Way Rally totals 566km and includes a timed special of 132km. Riders will again face the rough, tricky-to-navigate Siberian forest tracks before the route leads them out into the faster open pistes on the final stretch towards Gorno-Altaisk.
Skyler Howes: “Overall, the day went well with no crashes, and I rode really well. It’s good to get the rally underway and get the lay of the land here in Russia. I enjoyed the terrain through the forest, but the road book had several confusing notes that were tough to understand at first. I took a little time to make sure I didn’t get lost too badly and so my result isn’t quite where I would want it to be. Nevertheless, it’s good to get these things sorted on the first stage and get a good feel for the navigation at the event. There are still nine days to go, so now, with a little better understanding of the road book, I hope to be able to push on tomorrow and enjoy the rally.”
Luciano Benavides: “It was a good warm up on stage one. Not a very long stage, but it’s nice to get a feeling for the terrain and the road book here at Silk Way, and to also get comfortable on the bike in these conditions. Unfortunately, I made a mistake early on and then had to complete the rest of the stage in the dust of a rider in front. I lost some time, but overall, I’m really happy with the feeling on the bike and it was good to get familiar with the style of the road book. With nine days to go, there is not too much pressure yet so I’m looking forward to tomorrow with a good start position.”
2021 Silk Way Rally – Stage 1 Provisional Classification
1. Franco Caimi (Hero) 0:49:52
2. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 0:50:55
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 0:51:22
4. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 0:51:46
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 0:52:25
6. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 0:53:07
8 Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 0:56:28
10. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 0:56:34