N°9 Bike BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM
driver
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SKYLER HOWES

(usa) 1.9m / 90kg

Hobbies

MTB, rock climbing, snowboarding, jet skiing, fishing

Sponsors

KTM, BAS Trucks, LPOR, Fly, v.d. Velden Motoren, Red Wolf Rock, Parrot

2020: 9th
2019: Ab. Stage 6

2020: Silver State 300 (1st, Solo), Sonora Rally (2nd), Andalucia Rally (15th)
2019: Sonora Rally (2nd), Morocco Desert Challenge (1st), Serres Rally, Best In The Desert (1st, Open Pro), Vegas to Reno (1st, Solo)
2018: Sonora Rally (1st), Dakar Challenge (1st), Baja Rally (1st)
2017: USRA Desert (1st), Baja 1000 (5th)
2015: ISDE Slovakia (2nd)
2012: AMA National Hare and Hound 250 (1st)
2008: USRA Desert 125 (1st)
5-time Rhino Rally Winner

Interview

“I'm confident I can do better”

He may only have taken part in two Dakars to date, but American biker Skyler Howes will definitely be a rider to watch during this 43rd edition. The 28-year-old turned pro in 2012 and has built up an impressive CV in offroad racing, posting wins at the Sonora Rally, the Baja Rally and the Morocco Desert Challenge. He watched the Dakar on television as a boy and was encouraged to take part by Chris Blais and the late Kurt Caselli, eventually making his debut in 2019. He admits that he "underestimated" the world's toughest rally two years ago. After suffering with flu, he crashed and dislocated his shoulder; an injury that didn't stop him claiming a top-10 finish on Stage 5, but ultimately forced him to abandon two days later. Still, Skyler had shown flashes of his potential, and certainly lived up to it at Dakar 2020. Despite breaking his neck in the build-up to the rally, the American swept to a superb ninth place overall, finishing as the top privateer to boot. He returns to Saudi Arabia with elite rider status and the support of a new team, having switched from Klymciw Racing to BAS Dakar KTM Racing during the Covid-19-affected season. He has only made a handful of outings in 2020 -picking up a victory at Silver State 300- but still goes into Dakar 2021 with plenty of confidence. He explains that he didn't put himself under too much pressure last year, and is hoping that a similarly laid-back approach will allow him to hold his own with the best riders. Born in California, now based in Utah, Skyler spent many years racing against -and often outperforming- the reigning Dakar champion Ricky Brabec, and wants to make it another successful year for the USA.

“I broke my neck three months before Dakar 2020 and only had two weeks to prepare. So I kept a lighter mentality: don't expect anything, don't push too hard, just ride every day. Whatever result I get is good enough because at least I get to be here! I think it paid off to have that mentality, to keep the pressure off. Some days were difficult, things happened that were out of my control, which was frustrating. But I dealt with it, kept moving forward and had a really good result.
In previous years I'd never been able to test the bike before Dakar. On my first Dakar I just stressed myself out so much that I got sick. The first four days I had the flu, I was super out of it, I couldn't focus. At the end of day three, I was on the liaison and a kid on a scooter swerved in front of me, so to avoid him I hit the brakes and crashed and dislocated my shoulder. I got it taped up and raced Stages 4 and 5, they were my best days of the rally. I was able to deal with the pain and get a top-10 finish, even with a separated shoulder. But Stage 6 was really difficult, my shoulder was so swollen that it wouldn't go back in. I tried to ride over 50km one-handed, just holding onto my shirt, but it wasn't happening. At the end of the day, riding Dakar you have to be smart. You can't take unnecessary risks. If you're going to finish 15th one day, that's fine, you take 15th and just keep plugging away. That’s how you have a really good Dakar. Have good stages and go for wins, but also be smart about it. I know it's a bit late with my DNF from 2019 but I want to have a record like Laia [Sanz], where you finish all 10 of your Dakars. That's legit. I've raced against Ricky Brabec for quite a long time, I used to beat him back in around 2013. Racing with someone who ends up becoming the first American to win Dakar, that's pretty cool. Saudi Arabia actually has very similar terrain to the west coast of the USA. Where I am in Utah, in St. George, we have big red rocks, slick rock, the same formations, the sand is very similar. And when you get into the riverbeds and valleys, it's very similar to Southern California, where Ricky is from, where we both grew up racing. The magnitude of Saudi is huge, the dunes are vast, nothing compares to that. But as far as the dirt and terrain goes, it's kind of like riding at home. Maybe that's why Ricky and I had pretty good results last year, we just felt at home.
With more experience behind me, I'm confident I can do better. Hopefully back up Ricky and keep an American on the podium. Everyone wants to win. No matter what, I want to keep the same mentality as last year, it helps you to avoid bad mistakes. Riding in the middle of Saudi for miles and miles and miles, anything can happen. Mindset is the most important thing. One of the best lessons I learnt from Kurt was: be smart about your decisions, think about things rationally. I obviously want to do better. There's been a lot of stress to make it happen this year, I've sold everything I own. The ultimate goal would be to land on a factory team, for sure. If that can work out, that's the main goal. Have a good result, good Dakar, land on a factory team, so I no longer have to sell my body and a bunch of t-shirts!"

Vehicle

BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM

  • Mark : KTM
  • Model : 450 RALLY REPLICA
  • Performance tuner : BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team
  • Assistance : BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team
  • Class : G1.1 A.S.O. Elites

Ranking 2021

Scratch Stage General
0 13 13 13
1 8 8 8
2 11 11 8
3 4 4 1
4 20 20 5
5 7 7 7
6 19 19 9
7 3 3 7
8 9 9 7
9 10 9 7
10 4 4 5
11 13 13 5
12 4 4 5

All news of S. Howes

Newsflashes - 13/01 09:12 [GMT +3] - Moto

Howes third

Kevin Benavides still leads at WP1, ahead of Ricky Brabec, but Skyler Howes has now risen to third place at 23". Joan Barreda is running in fourth place, while Nacho Cornejo is fifth at just 38" back.

Reactions - 05/01 13:43 [GMT +3] - Moto

Skyler Howes: “I felt right at home”

Like yesterday, Skyler Howes finished fourth on the special around Wadi Ad-Dawasir and has succeeded Joan Barreda at the top of the general standings. The American’s consistency has paid dividends.

“Another fun day in the desert. I keep saying it, but I'm just having a lot of fun on the motorcycle. Today the dunes flowed really well and I felt comfortable...

Newsflashes - 05/01 12:40 [GMT +3] - Moto

Howes takes the lead in the general standings

With the fourth best time on the day’s special, Skyler Howes takes over form Joan Barreda at the top of the general standings. The former rival of title holder Ricky Brabec in the USA now possesses a lead of 33’’ over Argentinean Kevin Benavides and 1'28 over Frenchman Xavier De Soultrait.

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