After just 3 days, the 3-time Dakar Rally entrant jumps into the overall lead of the world’s most famous off road competition. It’s no biggie, right?
Wrong. For a US privateer to gain the OA lead after 3 “hard stages” proves his point that he is a legitimate contender and candidate for a factory ride. His biggest gamble already paid off.
What makes it the biggest news of the day is his underdog status of self-started crowdfunding effort capped off by his literal selling out. Yes. You can say Skyler Howes is a sell out. He claims to have sold “everything I own,” Including vehicles, bikes, gear and nutritional products (ie: he even sold his food). This guy put all of his own chips on the roulette wheel’s number 9 and scraped his way, the hardest way, to get to the start of the big stage. Hail Mary, Saudi or bust, all-in, sink or swim, do or die, feast of famine. This big guy has cojones, a heart and the faith to match his tall, burly stature. He is also incredibly likable and has a base of supporters to prove that.
Calm down. It’s just Stage 3. Put the corks back in the champagne bottles, right?
Wrong again. He’s bet everything on himself to show the Empire that he was worthy of a full-time job as a Jedi rally pilot.
If you’ve followed him or listened closely to Skyler Howes’ build up to Dakar 2021, then you know what his main goal is. If you’ve yet to catch the Skyler bug you’re about to.
After his first Dakar start in 2019 ended in agony with the teary- eyed giant tapping out with a severely damaged shoulder, some of us thought he’d get tapped by a big team to be a junior member (a.k.a. waterboy). We were wrong. But after last year’s performance won him the top privateer award – concurrent with HRC HONDA and Ricky Brabec’s historic first Dakar Rally win – the consensus held that American Skyler Howes was ripe to be tapped by a major team.
You’d think this would be a less risky move for any such organization compared to a year earlier but he was passed over by the big guns. This time they were wrong and, with today’s stage 3 result of 4th place lifting him to the overall classification lead, they (all of them) are feeling at least a little bit of that, lil bit, lil bit.
So, here’s what needs to happen for this to end well for the young Jedi in Jeddah. Any of these 4 scenarios will put Skyler Howes into the first round draft for 2022:
- Continue finishing stages in the top 5-10, starting successive stages with 5-10 riders physically in front of him. Then make an attack in the final 2-3 stages for the win to upset the money ballers.
- Finish the rally in the top 5 under any circumstances.
- Finish the rally in the top 20 due only to some mechanical circumstance.
- No injury crash.
Everyone likes to cheer for the underdog and in Skyler Howes we sure have one. Seasoned Dakar fans understand the perils of getting in front of the fat lady before she sings – don’t count your chickens too soon, right?
Right this time you are. But with Skyler Howes’ bumpy road from Utah to Saudi Arabia by winging it on his own crowdfunding, in a pure faith commitment in himself, the fact that he sits with the overall lead of the world’s biggest off-road race proved his point already.
Just keep that bike upright, Brother.