Racers Charged Every Last Kilometer of the 2023 Coast 2 Coast Rally
There was a mad dash to the finish. It would be the very last they’d need to reach during the 2023 Coast 2 Coast. Timing & Scoring was so close they could smell it. Therefore, this was first real head-to-head they faced, and the last for that matter, since setting off from Veracruz on February 13th. The sun was brilliant by this time of day. Beach, sea, sky: all were the brightest versions of themselves – nearly one united color. These were also the hottest temps of the week at just under 90-degrees, soft sand being the true indicator. Waves here were heavy, which excavated the shore with every downbeat of the ocean’s infinite rhythm. A sinister, sharp right-angle carved into the ledge between pilots and the water was so well-blended into the horizon due to exposure to the 2pm light, several competitors came way too close to launching off it. Most avoided an incident, but a few weren’t so lucky, with one rider going head-over-tail when he slipped down the embankment. Another took a bath trying to keep himself from losing control of his bike. They had cued for an hour at DSS waiting for the official launch of the final special, so they were chomping at the bit, hungry for that last stretch of racecourse that promised them a full helping of speed, wind and ultimate glory. It’s on these last 27 kilometers, the challengers went full-send. Like stallions. released from an unwatched arena, these uninhibited plastic ponies rode like they were fighting for freedom. And the horseless carriages followed with a similar fervor.
Maxi Rally and Rally Experience teams were some of the toughest boys out there. It already takes some courage to enter a rally-raid on a purpose-built vehicle, but to sign-up with machines that are arguably inefficient in this sport (or any?) requires a bit more than bravery. Maybe a few loose screws. Or something to prove. Perhaps they possess just a few more drops of masochism every rally racer needs to survive five-plus stages of punishment, especially on a motorbike sitting in the heavier weight classes. Of the ADV Experts, Vincent Ros (62) had the fastest time amongst his peers, winning the Rally Experience Category with flying colors. Mauricio Rivas (59) took the second step of the podium on his Aprilia Tuareg 660, a rare vessel even in this class. Juan Pablo Isaac Medina (57) was a contender for runner-up throughout the tournament, but eventually settled for Third after he was awarded a crushing penalty on Stage Four. Like the Rally Experience class, Maxi Rally saw about a 50% attrition rate. Come Friday only three were left: Mauricio Varela (73) in the Winner’s Circle, Leonardo Padilla (71) right after him, and Javier Garza. Bolado (70) to round out the numbers.
Some folks just don’t know how to reel it back. And while racing at a 110% can be a benefit in certain moments of the competition, going one-hundred-percent, one-hundred-percent of the time is a risky play. We’ve already seen what great consequences the athletes can suffer in a low-danger zone. Races are already a matter of chance, and understanding when and when not to push those limits with a bit of daring is what makes for a lengthy career in rally. Of the rookies, Dohnsie Nyguen (37) was all heart, which is what put him on the Top Step in Rally 1 by Day Five. But he had a bit more of the reckless abandon as well, crashing (albeit not seriously) in every stage. His “war wounds” were evidence of his gumption. Mario Mendoza (28) wasn’t all that much slow – a perfect adversary to rival a rider like Nyguen.
“Stage Four was awesome. It was very fast with very beautiful landscape. And I’m just happy to make it to the Pacific side. But today [Stage Five], there was a rocky section going downhill during the liaison. It was really tricky, and I earned myself another ‘trophy’ here [displays road rash on forearm]. The Special was a lot of speed, which was a really great way to finish.” – Dohnsie Nyguen #37, Rally 1, Privateer
SS4 seemed like tables were turning for Mendoza when he took the round, but his stats didn’t add up to victory this year. One of the younger pilots of the bunch, Nicolas Franco (29), made a short detour from enduro to rally-raid – on a two-stroke no less! The Husqvarna TE 300 might not have mastered the taller dunes, but it sailed across the other terra-challenges with relative ease, placing him 36 minutes behind bike #28. The ATV class was another matter. If it weren’t for an unfortunate mishap, resulting in a DNF, Mauricio Segura (51) might have found himself with a trophy to take home. He put in great times the remaining race, despite a lot of push back from the Quad King, Sergio Padilla (50). But as roadbook rallies go, you can lose it all on Day One. It’s just great to see him carry on and make Padilla fight for his crown. Because there’s just no fun in an unopposed campaign, right?
“I was super happy with today. It was phenomenal. The landscape was beautiful, and the competitors were very fast during the race, especially at today’s special. Everything they [the organization] introduced us to was truly incredible.” – Mauricio Segura #51, ATV Pro, Surestazo
Rally Pros had a slim margin for failure. This whole group was made up of fast guys, so it’s safe to say the leaders were the more talented navigators. Even so, a smattering of penalties kept riders who were talented at both bogged down by extra time. Bikes at the top one day were damn near the bottom the next. The ones who didn’t fluctuate so drastically were the champions amongst the professionals. Differences between the first four seats were by mere minutes. Mauricio Santana (5) appeared to be in real contention, pulling some of the quicker times on-course. But consistency, and perhaps sheer determination, gave South Africa’s Willem Avenant (12) and Oswaldo Lara (7) from Punta Colonet, B.C., the upper hand, placing them One and Two ahead of Santana. Avenant was a favorite to win, having some of the most well-rounded experience in the lineup, but the fierce competition around him, rather than his performance, likely obstructed his preferred results. Strawberry farmer in small-town Baja, Lara was a surprise to those who weren’t familiar with him or his prowess on a moto. His wife and daughter congratulated his success under the Red Bull arch at playa de Zicatela, maybe still unaware of his accomplishment at that point.
“Today was great. It was really, really fast which started with a very long liaison down a bunch of mountains. Pato [Race Director, Patrick Reyes] called it 1,500 turns, and it was. We turned the whole day downhill over rocks, then went up the mountain again. In the end, we had a flat out [high-speed] Special down at the beach, which was amazing! It was like a row-start Dakar – just flat-out as fast as the bikes could go with a few dips and bumps which were a bit dangerous. But everybody had fun, and it was a mind-blowing day of full-speed racing all along the beach. Absolutely amazing.” – Willem Avenant #12, Rally Pro, Freedom Rally Racing
The side-by-sides had their fair share of drama this Coast 2 Coast. Roll-overs, mechanical issues, and troubles in the silt. Even at the very last special, Angel Perez (103) managed to bend a control arm in the final stretches. But that didn’t deter him one bit as he and his co-pilot, Kyber, pulled into parc fermé with big smiles on their faces (limping only a little). Although, finishing First in the UTV Stock class might have had something to do with it… Behind the men were cars #102, captained by Manuel “Manolo” Delaconcha, and #100, with Jose Martin Diaz Gonzalez at the wheel. With Speed Zones ever present, the SSVs of both categories caravanned down the steep, curvy mountain range they’d ascended the stage before. If you followed their tracks on Google Maps, you might think you were viewing the records of an electrocardiogram (EKG) by mistake. The lines were all over the place, up and down, in short bursts and in large. A dizzying descent during the Liaison from San José del Pacifíco – reaching upwards of 3,000 meters (or 9,842 feet) at times then dropping drastically – was such a contrast from the wide, straight, swift trajectory of the 10 “clicks” of the Special that it’s no wonder the racers went wild at the sight of the finish line. Both Unlimited UTVs drove fairly separated from each other most of the event. They mixed with the Stock class on course, and while there was a bit of gap between them, they also both finished with points. Something that counts for a lot in a sport meant to break you. But only one can be triumphant. And that someone was Arturo Garza (107), while Juan Manuel Vasquez (105) took the next respectable step.
Reportedly, one of the more popular routes, SS5 gave the participants a little bit of everything. Under the dark, cool canopies of the rainforest, they brushed against helechos, healthy ancient ferns unbothered and thriving in the woodlands. A dense fog sat at a certain elevation almost indefinitely so travelers can watch everything ahead of them disappear into the grey. Air was cool for a while, but there was a distinct change from one climate of biosphere to the next signaling the arrival to the jungle. Humidity built up around you with every meter you traveled closer to the Pacific. Pines and ferns became vines, fruits, and florals along the path. Then the blanket of warmth became a more unbearable heat, and you knew you were at sea-level. That was the start of the final timed section, cued up at Timing & Scoring, waiting for the prerequisite signal. It was the moment where those heavy weights of competition were blown off their shoulders in this hasty sprint. Here, they were stallions or carriages free of masters and rules and burdens. And only after the proverbial checkered flag waved would the Coast 2 Coast Rally award them their glory and a celebration.
Ø San José del Pacifíco > Pueblo Escondido – 170 km; Liaison > 153 km & Special > 17 km
Terrain: Jungle High Sierra Jungle Coastal
** Rainforest = pine trees, compact dirt, colder
** Jungle = colder, foggy in the mornings, jungle
** Coastal Beach = Soft sand
Ø Oaxaca, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca, is one of the thirty-one states that, together with Mexico City, form the United Mexican States. Its capital and most populous city are Oaxaca de Juárez. It is divided into 570 municipalities, 418 of which are governed under the system of uses and customs, with recognized local forms of self-government. It is in the southwestern region of the country. It limits to the north with Puebla and Veracruz, to the east with Chiapas, to the south with the Pacific Ocean and to the west with Guerrero. With 93,757 km², it is the fifth largest state — behind Chihuahua, Sonora, Coahuila, and Durango — and, with 3,967,889 inhabitants in 2015, the tenth most populous. It was founded on December 21, 1823. The state is known primarily for its indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples, represented by more than 16 ethnic groups, with the Zapotec and Mixtec being the most represented. These cultures have survived and maintained their uses and customs with greater success than the rest of the national territory, thanks to the rugged and isolated territory of the state. 10 Most of these groups inhabit the central area of the state, whose cultural wealth, which includes archaeological sites such as Monte Albán and Mitla, make it an important tourist area.
Ø Just a bit south of Puerto Escondido is Playa Bacocho, an important turtle-nesting site that’s known for its sunset panoramas. Only several years ago, this place was a virtual unknown to tourists. Now it’s such a popular destination that measurements have been put into place to keep the crowds a bit further back, respecting the natural cycles of the turtles. Here, there were thousands of eggs laid in the sand awaiting their inhabitants’ grand entrances. Before the beach earned international attention, lucky visitors could witness hundreds, if not more, of hatchlings spring to life – if you time it right, of course – and make their arduous voyage to the sea. Many dangers can occur along this journey, predators notwithstanding, and so local volunteers will now scoop up some of these eggs when they are freshly laid to put them into temperature-controlled incubators until they are ready to be released for this pilgrimage. It’s hotly debated whether or not this is ethical or appropriate, but the groups argue that without their interference, many of these eggs wouldn’t see through the end of gestation.
Ø Puerto Escondido is a port town and resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. It’s known for its many beaches and buzzing nightlife. The town’s central Principal Beach is lined with palm trees and thatch-roofed bars. Busy Zicatela Beach is renowned for its Mexican Pipeline surf break. Neighboring La Punta Beach has smaller waves. Carrizalillo Beach is set in a cove backed by steep cliffs.
Top Five Overall Results
All results are unofficial. Please see event website for the most current standings.
1. #7 Oswaldo Lara – 05:27:48
2. #12 Willem Avenant – 05:30:28
3. #53 Mauricio Santana Torres – 05:32:10
4. #3 Fernando Pasquel – 05:38:56
5. #13 Sergio Lopez Jaimes – 05:45:53
1. #37 Dohnsie Nyguen – 05:32:52
2. #28 Mario Mendoza – 06:01:02
3. #29 Nicolas Franco – 06:37:21
4. #27 Ladislao Hernandez Aresti – 08:03:15
5. #24 Dane Stanton – 09:10:29
1. #62 Vincent Ros – 07:53:49
2. #59 Mauricio Reyes Rivas – 25:14:54
3. #57 Juan Pablo Isaac Medina – 30:29:16
4. #55 Edwin Cervera – 38:34:10
1. #50 Sergio Padilla – 16:03:06
1. #107 Arturo Garza – 06:33:29
2. #105 Juan Manuel Vasquez – 14:57:11
1. #103 Angel Martin Perez – 06:40:53
2. #102 Manuel “Manolo” Delaoncha – 12:16:45
3. #100 Jose Martin Diaz Gonzalez – 14:08:32
4. #101 Juan Carlos Lorenzo Diaz Gonzalez – 20:24:08
1. #73 Mauricio Varela – 06:04:02
2. #71 Leonardo Padilla – 11:38:53
3. #70 Javier Garza Bolado – 12:01:14