Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides have successfully completed the second stage at the 2021 Rallye du Maroc. Covering over 600 kilometres in total, the two FR 450 Rally riders faced a 334-kilometre timed special, primarily raced over the incredible Merzouga Dunes in the south of Morocco.
Following a difficult stage one where a navigation error ended up costing him a lot of time, Skyler Howes set off as the 25th rider from the bivouac this morning. Enjoying the terrain, feeling comfortable on his bike and able to push, the American was soon catching and passing riders ahead of him. Holding position just inside the top 10 for much of the timed special, Skyler was able to focus on his navigation while putting his FR 450 Rally through a real test in the soft sand of the Merzouga Dunes. Ultimately finishing as ninth fastest, Howes moves up to 15th in the provisional overall standings.
Also happy with his riding on stage two of the event, Luciano Benavides made the most of his ninth place start position to attack the start of the stage and chase down the riders ahead. A couple of small mistakes cost him some time throughout the special, but the young Argentinian was still able to hold on for 14th place at the finish, just under 13 minutes down on the leader. Currently 10th in the rally standings, Luciano will be keen to make up more time on Monday’s long stage three.
The third stage of the Rallye du Maroc will start and finish in Zagora once again. Riders will cover a total of 604.60 kilometres, 341.81 of which will be timed special stage.
Skyler Howes: “Stage two went a lot better for me than yesterday. I felt really comfortable on the bike and was able to maintain a good pace through the whole stage. There are still a few bugs to shake out, it wasn’t a perfect day but definitely an improvement. The stage was really fun to ride – the dunes in Merzouga were awesome and had a good flow to them. All in all it was a really good day, both on the bike and with my navigation. I’m happy, there are a few things we can look at to do a little bit better, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Luciano Benavides: “Another long day, and a really tough one. We had a large section of dunes in the first half of the stage, and I found that quite hard physically. After the refuelling it was difficult for me to stay 100 percent focused and I think because of that I made a little mistake with my navigation that cost me some time. The feeling with the bike is good, and with everything so tight on the leaderboard my result doesn’t really show the progress we’re making. I’ll keep pushing tomorrow and hopefully have another good day.”
2021 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 2 Provisional Classification
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:40:32
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:41:51
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:43:22
4. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:44:12
5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:44:36
6. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:45:25
9. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:47:32
14. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:53:11
2021 Rally du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 2]
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 7:12:11
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 7:12:30
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 7:13:11
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 7:15:12
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 7:17:08
6. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 7:18:08
10. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 7:30:52
15. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 7:53:33