Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes has completed the shortened final stage of the Rallye du Maroc in fifth place, earning himself 12th overall. Luciano Benavides completed the stage 18th but was able to successfully defend his impressive sixth place overall in the rally standings.
With Wednesday’s timed special reduced to just 166 kilometres, it produced an effective sprint finish to the event, but still challenged all riders with a variety of terrain and some tricky navigation due to the tracks laid down on previous days of the race.
After travelling 142 kilometres of liaison, Skyler Howes was the seventh rider to enter the day’s timed special. Covering a lot of the same ground as on previous stages, navigation initially proved less of an issue, and with riders all putting in a similar pace on the shortened route, times were very close. Completing the special as seventh quickest, just less than two minutes down on the leader, Howes finished the rally in a provisional 12th place. Pleased with the performance of the new bike on the varied terrain of Morocco, the American now looks ahead to clocking up more distance on his 2022 FR 450 Rally in the desert of Abu Dhabi, come November.
Enjoying a strong Rallye du Maroc, Luciano Benavides gelled with the new version FR 450 Rally right away. Putting in a consistent performance throughout the event, the Argentinian was able to maintain his position inside the top 10 overall to ultimately finish in an impressive sixth place. Now, happy with his speed and machinery, and starting to feel more comfortable with his riding and navigation, Benavides hopes to build on his speed in Abu Dhabi before the Dakar Rally at the beginning of 2022.
The next event for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing will be the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on November 6-13.
Skyler Howes: “Today was good but quite uneventful. The first 80 kilometres were the same as we’ve raced before, so it was kind of like a big motocross track. We did a separate section in the dunes which was fun. I just went as fast as I could today and I’m happy with the result. It’s good to be back here at the finish safely after such a tough event – the navigation was really tricky over the whole race and the terrain here is pretty unforgiving.”
Luciano Benavides: “The last day of the rally went ok for me, and to finish the event sixth overall is good. I’m pleased with how the whole race went, I had a really good feeling on the bike, my confidence is definitely back, and my navigation was good. I want to thank the team for their hard work, the new bike is working really well. Of course, we have some more improvements that can be made ahead of Dakar, but for the first race, I’m really pleased with how it went.”
2021 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 5 Provisional Classification
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:39:12
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 1:39:29
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:39:30
4. Toby Price (KTM) 1:39:49
5. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 1:39:49
6. Joan Barreda (Honda) 1:40:17
7. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:41:10
18. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:46:11
2021 Rally du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 5]
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 16:26:51
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 16:28:50
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 16:32:18
4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 16:34:05
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 16:44:52
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 17:00:54
13. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 17:19:41