Skyler Howes has finished third fastest on the 581km stage two at the Silk Way Rally. Clocking in less than one minute behind the provisional leader, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider now lies sixth overall in the standings heading into day three. Luciano Benavides enjoyed a solid ride on the mixed-terrain stage, claiming eighth, just three minutes down on his teammate.
Once again showing his class in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Skyler Howes has delivered another top-three stage finish. This time on a hugely varied route at the Silk Way Rally, which challenged all riders with a mixture of fast, open sections, and far more technically demanding forest tracks.
Setting off eighth into the special, Howes was able to chase down his rivals ahead, but as navigation proved straight forward for all, it was his pure skill and pace that enabled him to move up the timesheet. Completing the 132.74km special just 57 seconds down on the winner, the American demonstrated both his speed and versatility in the testing conditions.
Enjoying the fast-paced opening to today’s stage, Luciano Benavides was well in touch with the leaders through to the waypoint at kilometre 66. With the special then leading riders into the tighter, rough forest tracks, Benavides eased his pace a little to reduce the chance of a mistake, which cost him some time. Completing the day in a solid eighth place, just over four minutes down on the stage winner, the FR 450 Rally rider now hopes to deliver another strong result on Sunday’s short 133km special and put himself into a good position going into the longer Mongolian stages towards the end of the event.
Leaving Gorno-Altaisk on Sunday, riders will cover a total of 666km on the way to the bivouac at Ulgiy for stage three. The timed special will again feature a mixture of terrain as the race climbs over the mountains on its way to Mongolia.
Skyler Howes: “Stage two was really good fun, and it was great to see some fans out there cheering us on. There wasn’t much in the way of navigation today, it was a pretty fast stage on pretty fast roads. Through the trees there were a lot of big mud holes and ruts, as well as a lot of vegetation. It made the special quite interesting to go from a really fast pace early on to picking your lines through the more technical stuff. I enjoyed the whole stage and it’s been really cool to rip through Russia like this – my result was good too. Only eight more days left!”
Luciano Benavides: “It was a good stage for me today. I felt good in the faster open pistes near the start. The bike performed really well there too, which is very encouraging. Then we headed into the forest, which is the sort of terrain I struggle with the most, over a lot of bumps and through the ruts. I decided it was best to stay safe and not risk having any crashes, so maybe lost a little time on the leaders towards the end, but on such a short stage it wasn’t too bad. We have stage three tomorrow, where we then head across the border and then the longer stages start, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
2021 Silk Way Rally – Stage 2 Provisional Classification
1. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:22:44
2. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 1:22:50
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:23:41
4. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 1:24:38
5. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 1:25:02
6. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 1:25:41
8. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:26:59
2021 Silk Way Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 2)
1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 2:13:45
2. Franco Caimi (Hero) 2:16:11
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 2:17:03
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 2:18:42
5. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 2:18:48
6. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 2:20:09
9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 2:23:33