Garrett Off-Road Racing Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes hasn’t had the best of luck this year, but things came together for him when it counted: the 23rd General Tire/Casey Folks Vegas-to-Reno, Presented by Fox.
Howes Takes Vegas-To-Reno Win And Championship
Despite the relative handicap of being sixth off the start in Beatty, he worked his way through the dust to take the physical lead during the second half of the 505-mile journey to Dayton in northern Nevada to secure not only the race victory but the Best In The Desert Series Championship as well.
In doing so, he became only the third rider to secure the overall motorcycle win as a solo act, joining Quinn Cody and Joan Barreda in this elite club. However, he’s believed to be the first solo rider to earn the series championship, besting the Danny Cooper team that led in points going in, 340-332, but whose luck turned sour.
“We had a game plan coming into this race,” Howes revealed. “If I won the race, Danny Cooper and the Monarch [Honda] team had to finish fourth or worse in order for me to win the championship.” With Cooper’s squad of Jesse Canepa and Kyle Tichenor only able to finish 11th Open Pro on their Kenda/Nitro Mousse/Fly Racing CRF450X, Howes had plenty of points to ensure the title.
Howes’ time of eight hours, 22 minutes and 19 seconds put him over eight minutes ahead of runner-up Santiago Creel/Max Eddy, Jr./Shane Esposito’s 8:31:02, the Nic Colangeli/Hayden Hintz/Jeff Trulove/Sage Vincent team claiming third bike in 8:36:09. (The winning vehicle overall was Bryce Menzies’ all-wheel-drive Trick Truck in 8:10:36. Howes owned the fourth fastest time overall.)
Of his ride aboard the Lake Powell Off-road Racing/AEO Suspension/Fly Racing-backed TE 501 prepared by Anthony DiBasilio of Wrench 42 Motorsports, Howes shared, “In between pits one and two (mile 31 to 57), there’s this long section that’s SO silty and I’ve never experienced that heavy of dust before! It was crazy. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to go—it was so thick!
“Once I was able to work my way into third [physically], I was in clean air for pretty much most of the [rest of the] day.”
He added, “Soloing it, I had super-high hopes. Coming into pit nine (Mina at mile 312) I was super-fresh, like I felt so good. Then just that little tiny section in between nine and 10 (Gabbs at mile 364), it zapped all my energy. It was just really cut up from all the rain [this winter], really rocky, a lot of ditches, BIG square edges and things like that.”
Despite that, Howes said, “The day went as good as it could’ve gone, for sure. It was awesome.”
Runner-up on the Monkey Business Workshop/Monster Energy/TBT Racing KTM 450 XC-F, Esposito said, “For [a race where] anything can happen, nothing really happened for us. We had a good day with the bike, riders—no crashes. [We] just started so far back (they were ninth off the line), the dust was our problem.
“We did what we could. Skyler and the N33 bike (Colangeli/Hintz/Trulove/Vincent), those guys were riding good. Once we got into clean air, we made up some time. [But Howes] was in the zone riding awesome today; I’m proud of him.”
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