Coast 2 Coast 2023: Stage One - Making Waves

Coast 2 Coast 2023: Stage One - Making Waves

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A Seaside Ocean of Sand Kicked Off the 2023 Coast 2 Coast Rally in Veracruz

It’s not often a rally takes its racers through a variety of terrain over the several days of competition, let alone a smorgasbord. Back after a four-year hiatus, the Coast 2 Coast Rally – a Mexican owned and operated event which takes place this year in Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca – pulled out all the stops. Dunes, jungle, desert, rainforests… Participants are in for an environmental escapade across the mermaid tail of Mexico. Special Stage One served up only a sampling today, but a hearty helping of dunes with a side of jungle turned out to be plenty, even a little too much, for some competitors. Attrition is always the greatest adversary of a rally racer, and it commenced checking boxes in the sand.

“Great day, amazing scenery, and awesome people. Loved the little towns we passed through, and the water-crossing. Some tricky navigation in the dunes, and the speed zones during the liaison kept everybody on their toes. Overall, great first day at Coast to Coast.”Willem Avenant #12, Freedom Rally Racing

The tiny towns they traversed knew nothing of the carrera [race], naïve of the action that would ensue under their noses. A school marching band inadvertently announced the arrival of the racers — at a volume and intensity only matched by the sound of the motorbikes which passed by. They were the first group to reach the water in El Arenal outside of Chachalacas, which took them to the base of a modest set dunes, the real challenge for the special save for a water-crossing (if you can call being ferried across a river mouth on a panga a “river-crossing”). DSS began on a beach, with the coast spanning for miles beyond the lines of sight. Those sandy mountains waiting nearby, visible and looming, its faces eerily delicate.

By morning, the ground was already soft and everything that tried to cross it would sink without enough speed. Racers could at least be grateful this stage was so short because after Day One, they wouldn’t see mounds like this again. Although the deserts, rainforests, and jungles they will eventually encounter have plenty of surprises in store, many pilots were just hoping to keep themselves and the machines together until they overcame las dunas. For many, there was nothing to worry about. But fate had different plans for one of the Americans, whose vast experience in the sport couldn’t help him anticipate the temperamental landscape. Density changed consistently under Dan Bartolucci (10) as he rode through SS1, but without warning, the front wheel of his Husky 501 bogged down during an ascent – the sand halting its motion – and he high-sided onto his shoulder, ending his race only ten clicks in.

Most of the madness ensued before the navigation really began, with riders experiencing a range of difficulties along the earlier parts of the course. Some motos climbed over the foremost peaks with finesse while others struggled to find traction, leaving a lively wake of khaki granules spraying from their wheels. Bikes lined up under the BMW Motorrad inflatable arch, waiting for the signal to send them off one-by-one. The first few kilometers were particularly tricky. Off the line, man on pole led the way up the beach to the base of the initial hill then promptly stopped, swept his gaze left, right, up and down inquisitively, then turned around to reconsider his options. By that time, the next two riders had arrived and drew their lines in the virgin sand. While these ridges were small by rally-raid standards, their steep, powdery slopes made for demanding obstacles. Mike Johnson (9), winner of the round overall and in Rally Pro, is a master navigator and solid motorcyclist. That is a dangerous combo in a rally raid, which ultimately led to Johnson’s victory.

Not far behind was Dohnsie Nyguen (37) who likewise smelled glory on the other side of those hills. He took the second spot overall, and first in the Rally 1 category, while Fernando Pasquel (3) sat on Third in the General Standings and Second in Rally Pro by the end. American-Mexican expat, Scotty Bloom (14), snapped up the fourth seed in the General and Third in the Rally Pro. That’s not to say it was entirely a fair fight. A big chunk of this group is new to the sport, and these three are seasoned veterans. But they certainly set great examples of a what a competent contender could look like. The UTV Class didn’t have many rally-raid experts to follow, so they learned the hard lessons on their own. On a motorbike, it’s doable, but in sand like what they had today, side-by-sides stood little chance of a smooth, worry-free ride. The weight of the cars meant keeping up a considerable pace, but if roadbooks are a new concept, then it becomes Sophie’s Choice.

“Today was especially tough because the dunes were a pretty big surprise. The challenge was unpredictable, not just in the terrain but also the navigation. Going up the face of the dunes, you can only see the sky, and you have no idea what you’re going to encounter on the way down. That, and today was dry. The sand was very loose, so the Maverick continued to sink, practically submerging in some places. However, we arrived at the bivouac by about 5 pm – pretty early all things considered – so, I feel my performance was okay.”Manuel “Manolo” de la Concha #102, Delac Team

At the finish, Manuel “Manolo” Concho (102) and his co-driver clawed their way to First, as Arturo Garza (107) and Francisco Arauz and Angel Martin Perez (103) rounded out the podium in 2nd and 3rd. Even with little competition on the field, the leaders had much to fight to earn their accolades. The struggle hadn’t stop in the dunes. High-waterlines, narrow passages, silt, rogue animals, and speed zones all added a little salt to the wounds a complex roadbook could cause. There were many trials among the SSVs, several of them either not finishing or using all the daylight. But Tuesday is a whole other stage, and a whole new set of challenges to face.

On the eve of the Day of Love, participants at the Coast 2 Coast Rally are sending their Valentine’s to Motorsports. Ready for some passionate on-course foreplay tomorrow, the pilots and navigators are warmed up from the starting special stage. Today was less a race than it was a Litmus Test for who is or isn’t cut out for rally. And believe it or not, everyone – even those who DNF’d – passed the exam with flying colors. Because, really, all you need to do for a solid average in this sport is show up.

To learn more about the Coast2Coast Rally:

Follow the race on Instagram @rallyc2c and through hashtags #RallyCoast2Coast.

coast2coast 15 2 w 2 


Ø Veracruz Boca Del Río > Chachalacas > Jalcomulco – 202km; Liaison > 62 km & Special > 40 km
Terrain: Dunes → Jungle

Ø At the race are 60 racers in total, a huge feat for such an intimate event. Of those vehicles, eight were UTVs while the other 52 were on bikes. There are seven countries represented in 2023. Entrants from Spain, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Colombia, United States, and Mexico. Of the locals, 16 different municipalities were represented. This created a rich pool of contestants to battle it out for C2C glory.

Ø People fell into the registration line at the comfortable hour of 11am on Sunday. No time was wasted to collect bracelets, swag and signatures at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Veracruz, a 4-star hotel on the Atlantic with a big enough parking lot to pile in pop-up tents and purpose-built vehicles. Here, the crowd learned a little more about what’s to come, who’s involved and which dangers to avoid. Kickstands were up by 9am the next morning for the moderate trek to DSS. To save them from traveling for too long on the toll roads, the roadbook turned teams towards the countryside. Contestants crossed flatlands and cane fields (a large industry of the region which supplied substantial amount of sugar for kitchen tables and booze fermentation). What corn is to Iowa, cane is to the Mexican state of Veracruz. An environment which gradually moved to a setting somewhere between the forest and the tropics.

Ø Chachalacas & Jalcomulco: It was not quite as wild on the streets of Chachalacas as it was free. Dogs roamed without a care in the world. Families rode on small-cc motorbikes, placing their most precious cargo (groceries, work materials, babies) in between rider and the passenger(s). By the water, quads combed the beaches, stamping the coast with their tire tracks. A small town hidden in the jungle, Jalcomulco is quiet, clean, and built on the edge of a world-renowned Class Four river. The buildings are fused together in an older European style, with shared walls and close quarters. On the way to there, the nearest municipality to the first bivouac, appeared to be a meeting place of two climates. The younger growth of a rain forest mixing with the humidity hungry trees of the jungle. The lower tree lines of a growth not starving for sunlight matched each other’s. The bivouac itself was hidden under a thick canopy of waxy tropical flora with vines hanging down from the ancient trees.

Ø Number 23 ran out of battery in the arroyo and the media Jeep helped tow him until he could fire up his moto. He was a true grassroots racer, equipped with knee pads, elbow pads, helmet, goggles and boots, worn with blue jeans, a gold watch and a kid’s elementary school backpack. While he’s not as traditionally clad as the others, he was the epitome of “run what you brung.” And sometimes, to get the ball rolling, you just work with the best of what you have.

Top Five Stage Results
All results are unofficial. Please see event website for the most current standings.

1. #9 M. Johnson – 01:05:21
2. #3 F. Pasquel – 01:15:08
3. #14 S. Bloom – 01:15:25
4. #11 E. Gelinas – 01:17:15
5. #16 R. Haloftis – 01:19:37


1. #37 D. Nyguen – 01:13:05
2. #29 N. Francisco – 01:33:14
3. #28 M. Mendoza – 01:34:14
4. #35 S. Farias – 01:34:43
5. #38 E. Prieto – 01:42:18

1. #50 S. Padilla – 06:41:54
2. #51 M. Segura – 00:00:00

1. #107 A. Garza – 01:41:54
2. #105 W. Vasquez – 06:21:43

1. #102 M. Concho – 01:28:00
2. #103 A. Perez – 02:08:43
3. #106 H. Martin – 03:33:35
4. #100 J. Diaz – 07:52:31
5. #104 I. Sanchez – 00:01:36

1. #107 A. Garza, UTV Pro – 01:41:54
2. #105 W. Vasquez, UTV Pro – 06:21:43
3. #70 J. Bolado, ADV Pro – 00:52:48
4. #73 M. Varela, ADV Pro – 00:56:20
5. #71 L. Padilla, ADV Pro – 01:09:41

Top Five Overall Results
All results are unofficial. Please see event website for the most current standings.

1. #9 M. Johnson – 01:05:21
2. #37 D. Nguyen – 01:13:05
3. #3 F. Pasquel – 01:15:08
4. #14 S. Bloom – 01:15:25
5. #11 E. Gelinas – 01:17:15

1. #102 M. Concho – 01:28:00
2. #107 A. Garza – 01:41:54
3. #103 A. Perez – 02:08:43
4. #106 H. Martin – 03:33:35
5. #100 J. Diaz – 07:52:31


Source: WestX1000

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