At Dakar Rally, American privateer Skyler Howes is leaving mark despite limited money


As hard as racing in the Dakar Rally, the task of getting there is just as arduous for Skyler Howes.

But a shoestring budget hasn’t deterred the American from excelling in the renowned off-road raid.

Howes led the bikes division after Tuesday’s Stage 3 (of 12) despite being a privateer rider up against the big-budget factory teams.

“The main difference is the factory riders are getting paid to be here, and the privateer has to pay to be here,” Howes, 28, told NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman in a Zoom interview (video above) from Saudi Arabia this week. “So honestly getting to the race is one of the hardest things as a privateer to be able to raise all the funds, and I had a lot of people step up to help me out and get me here.”

HOW TO WATCH ON NBCSNInformation, schedules for the Dakar Rally

Howes hails from St. George, Utah, where he offers off-road riding lessons and also raises funding through merchandise sales and donations (he stenciled the names of all his donors on his BAS Dakar KTM Racing bike)

“I understand the value of money and the amount people stepped up to give means a lot,” he said. “I don’t know I could ever repay everyone who stepped up to help me. All I can do is make everyone proud. Being in the overall lead for a day hopefully everyone back home is stoked.”

At the halfway mark of six stages, Howes ranks ninth overall entering Saturday’s rest day. He finished 20th in the fourth stage Wednesday after taking the lead, dropping four spots, and since has finished seventh Thursday and 19th Friday.

Unlike factory riders, who have managers to help with logistics, planning and tactics, Howes has “a lot more strategy to figure out ourselves,” particularly with a new rule limiting riders to six tires.

He has tried to conserve for the second week, sacrificing some performance by running three days on the same rear tire. “That’s just one of those things that privateers face handling things on our own,” Howes said.

Because riders start in the order of finish in the prior stage, finishing well often has been a disadvantage because the fresh courses have been difficult to traverse.

“It’s a little different this year,” Howes said. “If you’re leading out, the navigation is quite difficult, so there’s this big yo-yo effect if you lead out, you get a poorer result then if you start behind, you get a good result. There’s this big fluctuation with results.”

Even with fewer resources, Howes still managed to finish ninth overall last year, which is as impressive for the state of his health as his finances.

Howes entered the 2020 Dakar Rally with only a week of training after breaking his neck three months earlier. His surgery for the injury included inserting a plate and six crews while fusing three broken vertebrae.

“Someone once told me you have to be a certain kind of stupid to ride a motorcycle fast, and maybe that has something to do with it,” he said. “You kind of shut that part of your brain off, the pain receptors.

“Dirt bike riders are some of the toughest dudes on the planet. Maybe it’s just we’re a certain kind of dumb. At the end of the day, there’s no other feeling like ripping a dirt bike through the desert. That’s why we do it. We live for it. Whenever the pain comes, we push through it because the glory and feeling afterward outweighs it.”

Those feelings have come early for Howes in the 2021 Dakar.

“I always hold myself to a high standard, but coming in after Stage 3 and putting a camera in my face and saying I’m the overall leader of the Dakar Rally, that’s pretty cool,” he said. “Not something, honestly, I really expected. Honestly, I’m just having a lot of fun out there.

“I hope to finish strong. Dakar, so much crazy stuff can happen. I don’t want to put pressure on myself to get a certain result. I just want to cross the finish line and hope everyone back home is proud.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Detroit


The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.

Supercross Results Detroit
Justin Barcia was part of an exciting, four-rider battle in the middle of Detroit’s A-Main. – Feld Motor Sports

For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.

Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.

Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.

It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.

Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.

Plessinger’s fall took the wind from his sails. He attempted to right his bike after a hard crash, but as it smoked and pinged, he dropped to 13th in the final rundown.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.

Supercross Results Detroit
Strong starts have been one of the keys to Hunter Lawrence’s success in 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.

Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.

Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.

Rounding out the top five is Chris Blose, who was pressed into service at the start of the season because of a rash of injuries at Pro Circuit Kawasaki. This is Blose’s first top-five of the season, although he’s steadily improved over the past five rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 East Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.

The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.

2023 Results

Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s