|SKYLER HOWES AND LUCIANO BENAVIDES HEAD TO RUSSIA FOR 2021 FIM CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES ROUND TWO|
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides are all set to compete at the 2021 Silk Way Rally. Starting in Russia and concluding 10 days later in Mongolia, the ultra-demanding event marks the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Just weeks after successfully completing Rally Kazakhstan, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team have arrived in Omsk, Russia, to contest the Silk Ray Rally. Totalling 10 stages and a distance of over 5,400km, the event spends three days in Russia before travelling over the border to Mongolia for the remaining seven days.
Facing many new challenges since signing for the team, Skyler Howes comes into the Silk Way Rally in top form after winning two of the five stages at Rally Kazakhstan. Immediately comfortable on his FR 450 Rally, Howes was able to push right from the start at round one of the championship and hopes to be able to maintain that impressive form at Silk Way. The race will still pose a huge test of physical and mental strength however, with no rest day to split the 10 days of rallying. A marathon stage towards the end of the event will prove especially taxing for the then already exhausted riders.
Coming into Silk Way having raced to a top-five result there in 2019, Luciano Benavides has a better idea than most of what to expect. However, with the organisers delivering a different route each year, his experience from two years ago will only help him so much and the young Argentinian still faces a massive test as he continues his return to form following his crash at this year’s Dakar. Fully fit and keen to impress at the demanding event, Benavides will be looking to maximise on the championship points on offer, secure a strong result, and move himself up the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship standings.
Starting in Omsk on July 2, the Silk Way Rally covers 10 stages of racing, including one marathon stage, before the finish in Ulaanbaatar on July 11.
Skyler Howes: “I’m really excited for the Silk Way Rally, it’s not only my first time at the event, but it will be my first time in Russia and Mongolia. I’m looking forward to exploring two new countries and from what I’ve seen before, the event is really nice, and they seem to set out some fun stages with Russia in the trees and mud, and then more open tracks through Mongolia for the last seven days. It’s going to be tough – a lot of the stages are quite long with some big liaison sections. There’s also a marathon stage where we cover a lot of distance and after the issue I had in Kazakhstan, I know I have to be a little more wary of looking after the bike on that one. I really like the longer stages, the more time on the bike the better for me. I’ve been in Europe training the whole time since Kazakhstan and so I’ve been able to do some useful training and hopefully I’m as prepared as I can be for this next event. I’m feeling comfortable on the bike, and so the goal, as always, is to win.”
Luciano Benavides: “It’s almost race time again and I’m feeling good ahead of the Silk Way Rally. My motivation is really high right now because this is the most important race of the year after Dakar. In 2019 I had a good result and so my plan is to equal that or do even better. The event is especially important for the championship because of the points system, so my goal is definitely to make it safely to the finish with a solid result. My pace improved nicely over the course of Rally Kazakhstan and since then I’ve been doing a lot more training and working on the set-up of the bike. I am in a good place right now, both mentally and physically, and can’t wait to get started.”
Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “This is the second race for the world championship and definitely an important one. As a marathon rally, the event is very long but also has different points awarded to the riders, so it’s definitely one we want to get right and come out of with two strong results. After Kazakhstan we can see Skyler is on the same level as the top guys over any of the terrain we saw there. This is really positive and a good sign for a varied race like Silk Way. Luciano continues to build his speed and confidence after his Dakar crash. I think that if he can find a good rhythm early on, he should do very well at Silk Way. It’s going to be a long one with tough stages and a lot of liaisons, but I think the team are in good shape and we’re expecting some good performances.”