Making his first competitive appearance for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory team outside of the United States, Skyler Howes carded P3 on Day One of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship Kazakhstan Rally. Howes was flying on his FR 450 Rally bike on the 280km timed special of Day One. He now sits third overall in the provisional overall rally standings with four demanding days to go.
“Today went really well for me. I started off eighth, so I had a lot of bikes to chase down, but actually the color of the dirt here in Kazakhstan makes it really difficult to see the tracks, so you have to stay on your navigation really well,” said the Californian from the bivouac. “I made a couple of really small mistakes early on – I didn’t get lost, just blowing corners. The terrain was quite fun, even though it was open, the tracks were really twisty and with a lot of sand, you could really rail the corners, so that felt good.
“The dunes today were a little weird because they had a wet layer on top, but you blew through that to the dusty layer underneath and that made it hard to keep a steady rhythm. With some big camel grass as well, it was tough to maintain a good pace there and I did lose a few minutes after getting lost. Overall, I had a really good day, had a lot of fun, and I’m excited for the rest of the week.”
Fellow American Andrew Short finished Day One in a solid 5th. Short’s time has him well with striking distance going into tomorrow’s Marathon Stage. “You can’t win a Rally on Day One, but you can definitely lose it,” cautioned the former motocross standout.
Thursday’s stage two of the 2021 Rally Kazakhstan marks the first half of the event’s marathon stage. Riders will head out from the bivouac at Aktau and cover a total distance of 310km, 280km of which are special stage. Staying in a temporary bivouac, the riders are allowed no outside assistance overnight.
2021 Rally Kazakhstan – Stage 1 Provisional Classification
1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:14:07
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:16:15
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:17:44
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:21:23
5. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:21:46