Runner-up on day three for Skyler Howes

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing have successfully completed stage three of the Silk Way Rally with Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides placing second and fourth respectively. With the event now shortened to just five stages, just two more days of intense racing await the FR 450 Rally riders.

Due to the COVID situation in Mongolia, the rally organisers were advised yesterday not to enter the country and as such, it was decided to cut the rally to just five days, with today’s stage three becoming the first half of the revised marathon stage.

Despite the upset to the event schedule, Skyler Howes stayed focused on the job at hand and, starting todays timed special in third, was able to maintain a solid pace for the entire 133km special. Finding the sandy tracks and high speeds much to his liking, the American felt comfortable on his FR 450 Rally and put in a virtually mistake-free ride to finish just over two minutes down on the stage winner. With competitors repeating today’s stage for tomorrow’s second half of the marathon stage, Skyler is looking forward to delivering another strong result.

Claiming his best finish of the event so far, Luciano Benavides placed fourth on stage three, just over six minutes down after over 90 minutes of racing. The young Argentinian moves up to seventh in the provisional classification and is still very much in the hunt for the podium positions with two stages left to race.

Riders will repeat today’s 133km timed special on Monday for stage four, before returning to the bivouac at Gorno-Altaisk.

Skyler Howes: “Stage three went really good for me. I chose to focus on my navigation rather than push for the best time and it worked out well. There was only maybe a couple of corners where I went a little wide, but nothing that would have cost me any time, so I’m really pleased today. I’m not sure if you would call it desert, but the special was definitely a lot more open today and I really enjoy these faster tracks and mountain roads. There was one river crossing that was especially deep, but thankfully by getting off and pushing across I managed to get through safely. We run the same course again tomorrow, so hopefully it hasn’t been cut up too much by the cars and trucks, then it’s back to the teams to prepare for the final stage.”

Luciano Benavides: “I lost a little time today in a couple of points – there was one place where I had to turn around, but apart from that I was happy with my riding and enjoyed the day. The stage was tough in places and the river crossings were really deep. I know a few of the guys had issues today, so after seeing that I decided to ease off a little and ensure a safe finish. We cover the same ground again tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that and pushing harder to make up some places.”

Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “It’s a pity the event had to be shortened but we respect the decision of the organisers in what is a very difficult situation. The riders will re-run the same route as today for tomorrow’s second half of the marathon stage and will then contest one more day before the finish. Our job as a team is to adapt to these changes and try our best to earn maximum points for the championship. Skyler did a good job today – he lies third overall now and is looking good for the final two days. Concerning Luciano, he lost a little time on what was a tough stage today with some very tricky river crossings but arrived safely at the finish in fourth place and in good shape.”

2021 Silk Way Rally – Stage 3 Provisional Classification

1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 1:32:21
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:34:24
3. Franco Caimi (Hero) 1:35:36
4. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:38:24
5. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 1:38:48
6. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:39:14

2021 Silk Way Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 3)

1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:49:24
2. Franco Caimi (Hero) 3:51:47
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:54:33
4. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 3:57:36
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:58:51
6. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:59:27

7. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 4:01:57