American rally star to compete onboard FR 450 Rally machinery through 2023
Husqvarna Motorcycles is pleased to announce the signing of Skyler Howes to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team. Signing a three-year contract, the 29-year-old will first compete on Husqvarna machinery at the Sonora Rally in Mexico in early May, before lining up at round one of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – the Rally Kazakhstan – in June.
Born in California, Howes grew up competing offroad, specifically desert racing, before turning his hand to rally in 2018. Contesting the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2019, the American admits he underestimated the iconic event, and despite showing great pace on the tough terrain he was forced to retire after dislocating his shoulder. Exceptional rides in both the 2020 and 2021 races saw the Utah resident finish inside the top 10 and as leading privateer – the highlight being an impressive fifth overall at this year’s event.
Now, looking ahead to the 2021 season, Howes will compete in a number of local North American races before focusing on the full FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Although he has some experience racing world championship events having previously competed in Morocco, Skyler plans on using the 2021 season to build his pace and experience on the varied terrain he’ll experience at each of the six championship races, while getting up to speed on his FR 450 Rally machine.
Howes and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team’s first FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship outing will be the Rally Kazakhstan on June 7-13.
Skyler Howes:“I am so excited to have signed for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team – it is something I have worked hard my whole life for. I started riding when I was just three years old and have raced offroad my entire life. I have only been racing rally for the past three years, and in order to be able to compete in the Dakar this year I had to sell everything I owned. I raced the Dakar for the first time in 2019, in Peru, and I have to be honest, it was a huge wake-up call. In 2020, I was able to sort a ride and, despite losing some time through the event, I was able to finish inside the top-10 and as top privateer. For this year it was a struggle financially to get to the start, but I knew I was capable of a really good result – I finished fifth, and as top privateer once again. Thankfully, my result got the attention of the factory teams and now it’s a dream come true to sign for Husqvarna Motorcycles – they have one of the best structures and set-ups in the paddock. One of the biggest things for me is the fact that I can now concentrate on my training 100 percent and hopefully take my riding and results to the next level. The goal for this year is to take in the world championship rounds and get as much experience as possible before January next year where the aim is to go on to challenge for the Dakar podium.”
Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager:“We’re really happy to welcome Skyler Howes into the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team. He is a rider with so much potential and his level of riding is improving all of the time. We have been watching him closely for a while and at the 2021 Dakar he rode really well to finish fifth overall in only his third attempt. Skyler is a fast, smart rider and a really nice guy as well – we believe that we can take him to the next level. He has been in Dubai recently to test the bike with the team, and everything is looking really positive already. Where he lives is a great area to train for rally so he will be able to get up to speed on the FR 450 Rally machine quite quickly. He will then compete in some local rallies in preparation for the upcoming FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. We are really confident in his ability and we can’t wait to see what he can do when the racing season begins in June.”
Source: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing press release