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Rally-Raid Network - NORTH AMERICA

Baja Rally 2023: Entries Open for Six Day Baja Rally Jan 1 Limited to First 20 Applicants Only

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Early Entry In January is a great way to get your hotel room comped*

Organizers of Mexico's longest rally-raid announced plans to open a limited number of 20 pre-sale entries for the Six Day BAJA RALLY Powered by RALLY COMP October 1-7, 2023. Only the first 20 entry applications will be processed during January at the deep discounted rate of $2,400 for returning riders and $2,800 for first time Baja Rally riders. UTV entrants are exempt from the "Limit 20" rule.

Reserve Your Entry Spot On The Waiting List

Rally organizers anticipate a high demand for discounted, pre-sale entries as a result of rising demand for rally raid competition in light of American Rally Originals and as many as 10 American riders participation in the 2023 Dakar Rally, a record number of US racers in the 43 year history of the event.
The pre-sale entry pricing equates to a $500 saving across the board and essentially means that the 6-night Hotel Package ($500.00) is thrown in for FREE. Racers and teams looking to plan early and smart will capitalize on this pre-sale offer to both guarantee their discounted entry AND to effectively get the cost of their hotel room package covered.
The option for early bird racers and teams to save their spot in line is new for Baja Rally events and gives plan-oriented athletes the option to scoop up the best entry process as well as guaranteeing them a hotel room package.

ABOUT BAJA RALLY
The Six Day Baja Rally Powered by Rally Comp the longest running rally raid motorsports competition in the North America. Now in its tenth year as a stand alone entity, the eco-friendly Baja Rally expands on its independent infrastructure of intellectual property and relationships. Among these assets are the 2018 Manifestacion Impacto Ambiente (MIA), the first environmental impact study for off road motorsports to be registered with and approved by the Mexican Federal Government for land use in nationally protected areas. Since the inaugural Baja Rally in September 2013, over 10,000 km of uniquely original off road routes have been safely and responsibly raced by more than 300 competitors over the course of 48 stages on a total of 42 days. For more information and inspiration visit www.bajarallymoto.com

Source Baja Rally
Photo: Miguel Santana

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Baja Rally 2023 dates revealled

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Week Long Rally Returns October 1-7, 2023 Schedule, Itinerary, Fees, Hotels & Terms Entry Period Opens New Years Day

Organizers of the longest running rally raid in North America have revealed all of the details for the 2023 iteration of the Six Day BAJA RALLY October 1-7, 2023. The week-long event will once again start and finish at Hotel Mision Santa Maria San Quintin with overnight bivouac locations in Cataviña and Bahia de Los Angeles. Each of the six Special Stage Routes are completely new and original for 2023 to entice returning competitors and to keep an even level of competition for first time racers.

On the heels of an overwhelmingly successful edition of the 2022 Six Day Rally, hosts, sponsors and staff have reset their focus onto parlaying this positive energy toward a breakthrough event in 2023, expecting to attract more than 80 competitors from countries around the globe. Riders, drivers and team managers are incentivized to submit entry forms and deposits early in January to secure hotel packages and logistics support. Astute competitors and returning veterans recognize the value of advanced planning to clear their calendars for the week-long competitive rally raid.

LOGISTICS DETAILS REVEALED
In the spirit of stoking enthusiasm for everyone, the Board of Directors has revealed the full schedule, itinerary, fees and terms for 2023, noting that each of 6 Special Stages will start promptly at 7:00AM followed by nightly racers briefings at 7:00PM.

 baja rally texto

ABOUT BAJA RALLY
The Six Day Baja Rally Powered by Rally Comp the longest running rally raid motorsports competition in the North America. Now in its tenth year as a stand alone entity, the eco-friendly Baja Rally expands on its independent infrastructure of intellectual property and relationships. Among these assets are the 2018 Manifestacion Impacto Ambiente (MIA), the first environmental impact study for off road motorsports to be registered with and approved by the Mexican Federal Government for land use in nationally protected areas. Since the inaugural Baja Rally in September 2013, over 10,000 km of uniquely original off road routes have been safely and responsibly raced by more than 300 competitors over the course of 48 stages on a total of 42 days. For more information and inspiration visit www.bajarallymoto.com

Photo: Tony Palandrani; Photo by WestX1000

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Sonora Rally 2022: The Big Show - After Years of Discussion, the Sonora Rally Joins the W2RC

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The winds of change are upon us, and they are blowing warm and strong, reconfiguring the sands into something bigger, sharper and more defined. An era of the Sonora Rally (SR) is being swept away to make space for the humble event’s next chapter at the height of their eighth year, following a rather successful – albeit brutal – race. There are those rare moments in life when everything you’ve been working for comes to fruition. When an intimate competition tucked into the local landscapes of Sonora officially joins the global effort to discover talent and seek glory one hieroglyphic note at a time. And now, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and Federation Internationale de L’Autombile (FIA) have unanimously agreed that the North America’s only true Dakar-style rally is to be added to the schedule. Giving the international pool of athletes an inside look at the training field which shaped elite American riders like HRC’s Ricky Brabec, Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes, former Yamaha rider, Andrew Short, and budding star Mason Klein. It’s an opportunity to level the playing field a bit. Giving others a taste of the milk which made our best and brightest. And to bring fresh blood to virgin wastelands in the Mexican State’s most remote regions, virtually untouched by foreigners, even from neighboring countries.

With the announcement made just as tires were warming up last week, participants, fans and staff alike were (maybe) a bit stunned but a lot pleased to see Sonora selected as the third round of the World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC) for 2023. Kicking off from its usual Spring spot, the tournament will take place April 22nd – 28th along a yet-to-be released route. No doubt, the organization has amped up their efforts behind the scenes to craft the perfect roadbook cocktail, but there is still little time left to really shake things up. Knowing Race Director Darren Skilton, that sort of pressure is just what he needs to make gems. But just because the perceived “value” of the Sonora Rally has shot up significantly, doesn’t mean the race will become inaccessible. In fact, it’s the mission of the organization, ASO, FIM/FIA, W2RC and even Dakar to maintain the heart and soul of the competition: the grassroots entrants – a condition set from the start, perhaps even part of the reason they were included in the new schedule. Believe it or not, the Orga at Dakar, headed by David Castera, values (there’s that word again) the down-to-earth, personal nature of SR. A foundation sharing the same no-fuss, full grit attitude as the legendary Euro-African race held in its origin. With a similar appreciation of fine culinary and insightful cultural experiences, thanks to ¡Aventura!, the Mexican stage of the series will continue to offer everything you look for in a first-rate international affair.

"We are beyond excited and honored to be a part of the 2023 Rally Raid World Championship. This is a seminal moment not only for the North American racing community but also the state of Sonora in Mexico. It's what we have worked for from the start and to see it happening is a dream come true. Now it's time to get to work!"Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Organizer and Director

While all the associations involved are known far and wide in the motorsports community, they don’t have as much of a presence in America and Canada as they do worldwide. Which is exactly why Skilton, along with founding partner Scott Whitney, produces this competition – to not only introduce those markets to the sport, but to inspire, enchant and encourage others here as the Dakar, and such off-road rallies, had to everyone else. The World Rally-Raid Championship was a product of the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) to combine the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship into one cohesive series. For those who don’t know, the ASO – part of the French media group Éditions Philippe Amaury – organizes everything from the Dakar Rally (of course) to the Tour de France and other cycling races, as well as golf, running and sailing. They are, in so many words, the tastemakers of motorsports. And they tend to choose their events wisely. The FIA is an association dating back to 1904 which was formed to represent motor car users and organizations. It's best known, now, as the governing body of Formula One. While the FIM is the global sanctioning body of motorcycle racing. And they have come together, culminating in a single set of international titles for the four-wheeled and two-wheeled categories, while the ASO serves as the series promoter, on contract for the next five years.

As a multi-time Dakar Champion, former US liaison and a Factory Team Manager, Darren knows what it takes to run a contest such as this from all perspectives. He understands how to balance safety, diversity, daring, chance and opportunity. And this shows in the careful selection of towns, topography, seasons and sponsors each year. One partnership in particular, which has been crucial to their achievement, has just signed on to support the coming event in April and many more to come due to the keen sense of Secretary of Tourism, Celida López. She has been a beacon of light for the organization to follow throughout each annual process, which requires a lot of dialogue, negotiation and trust between the Sonora Rally and the Sonoran State government, municipal officials and all tourism offices. It’s the continued support from local government, city tourism and Sonoran businesses which can ensure the continued prosperity of the rally in April.

The goal of Sonora Rally, along with the SR rally schools, has been to create a pathway for racers in North America to experience and learn about the rally raid discipline using their own vehicles and bikes. This approach has helped fuel the increase in North American racers arriving on the world stage. It is Sonora Rally's plan to continue with this by offering a place for all racers to be a part of the Sonora Rally caravan. In previous years we have travelled through the mountains of the Sierra Madre to the remote coastlines of the Sea of Cortez. But the highlight every year has been the vast spaces of the Altar desert, which has the only Erg in North America. The dunes will surely challenge even the most experienced rally raid pilots. A five-day off-road navigation race through the enchanting terrain in Sonora, the event will start in the capital city, Hermosillo, where it will offer two days for Registration and a Prologue, so enthusiasts can see the cars and bikes in action. After, they’ll be able to follow the next five stages online and stay abreast on North America’s premiere roadbook raid: the Sonora Ral

Final Thoughts…

Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Race Director: “It’s been my dream, ever since I started racing, to bring the World Rally Championship, or a Dakar-Style event, to North America. It’s something I’ve been discussing with David Castera for four years now, and I’ve pushed to make it happen. I want to stress to the racers, the volunteers and everyone who’s helped us along this journey that despite the big changes ahead of us, there’s still going to be a place for you. You’re the heart of this event. This is a big year for North America, a big year for the World Championship. The reason we created the Sonora Rally was to give people a low-stress environment to learn about what a real roadbook rally is like. And we want those people, who are the spirit of this rally, to be part of this future.

Part of the discussions have been about that, which the governing organizations are one hundred percent behind that. Yes, it’s going to be a transition. Yes, it’s going to another event; the officials will be coming over from Europe, but at its c

To learn more, visit: https://sonorarally.com/ Or, follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

Source Sonora Rally
Photo WESTx1000

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Baja Rally 2022: First-Time Rally Racers Infiltrate Six Day BAJA RALLY

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Young Rookies Nick and Alec Brawner Surprise and Upset a Field of Veterans.

Surprise Surprise. When you least expect something like this, it just happens- and it did. In the business world it's called a market disruption. In motorsports racing, we'll call it a shake up. For the first week of October 2022, under a partial veil of secrecy, the Six Day BAJA RALLY reached a number of new milestones to overcome challenges and reset the future of this event for the next decade to come. Now, the stories are starting to emerge from the veil.
Brothers Nick and Alec Brawner, riding under the Freedom Rally Racing banner, made their first trip to Mexico with neither having ever raced a rally raid stage with roadbooks. After the first 300 KM of Stage 1, it was obvious the Brawner boys were in their own league, with Nick besting handfuls of seasoned veterans and pros by at least 30 minutes. After six days of racing, eventual winner Nick Brawner gained an hour and forty seven minute lead on second place finisher Paul Neff, who himself is an ISDE vet and heading to Saudi Arabia for his first Dakar Rally.

A Rookie No More: Nick Brawner Wins Rookie of the Year while taking 1st place overall.
Nick's brother Alec would have been in the hunt for the overall win had it not been for a blown motor he suffered while leading halfway through Stage 2. Rally raid rules generally permit a racer who does not finish a stage to continue racing on successive days with either a 10 hour penalty or exclusion from an overall classification at the end of the competition.
It's both surprising and refreshing that a pair of young rookies could come to Baja for the first time and compete against seasoned navigators. But there's quite a bit more to reveal about some other notable standouts for this week long rally raid.

The Year of the Rookie
For the first time since the inaugural Baja Rally in 2013, new rally racers accounted for the largest single classification of entrants with a total of 14 rookies. No stranger to Baja riding and racing himself, Tony Palandrani made his rally debut, returning home to Santa Cruz, CA with 2nd Place Rookie and 4th Overall.
Tony Palandrani stayed healthy and consistent all week to earn a podium finish as a rookie
As a last minute alternate taking the place of Canadian Clint Reviere, local landowner and trail builder Oswaldo Lara emerged as a crowd favorite rounding out the rookie podium under the DiesPro Racing team.

"Without Ewan": His First Rally Won't Be His Last
Global adventure influencer Charly Sinewan entered his first motorcycle race in his life under his given name (Carlos Garcia) because he's widely recognized in Mexico. After 13 years away from home and with millions of weekly viewers on his YouTube channel, Charly took the week off from his normal travel and production schedule to blend in with dozens of racers in virtual anonymity. That kept "Carlos" focused with consistent pace all week. Carlos without Ewan took this competition very seriously and only missed the Rookie Podium by one position.
From the "What just happened?" file comes the story of sole big-bike entrant Brett Fox, an up in coming adventure influencer and rally rookie who assumed the task aboard his late model Triumph Tiger 900.
For those with knowledge of BOTH adventure riding AND racing in Baja California, this is not the first machine that comes to mind, if ever. Riders of equal size and skill have higher finishing odds on 5 or 6 other bike choices that qualify for the ADV Category. But don't tell that to elite athlete Brett Fox. The Colorodoan proved himself to be the machine and Brett's fellow competitors agreed his weeklong performance (and tire repair skills) were both surprising and impressive. It's almost like he'd be in the hunt for an OA in the rookie category on a 450 as he proved faster than Oswaldo (3rd place Rookie) on the final stage.

Source Baja Rally

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Sonora Rally 2022: Riding the Wave

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Racers Find their Rhythm on the Final Sonora Rally Stage

The wind was on today, skimming across the Altar’s sand sheets with unadulterated freedom, not an object in sight large enough to obstruct its path and slow it down. Khaki-colored granules pelted the skin like a thousand needles pricking in unison. But it kept the heat down, and so a gale was welcomed by everyone. Out of five strenuous days of competition, the final day is supposed to be the easiest (they say). But with a wide-ranging pool of talent, the Special ended with mixed reviews. If the dunes are a familiar place, the course felt comfortable, dare we say, enjoyable. But any anxiety someone could experience in the waves, humps or faces can exponentially grow into a taxing escapade if those emotions are put in check. Even so, if a pilot doesn’t know how to read the terrain properly, they would be ill-fated to an exhausting slog through the Sonoran desert.

Sharp ridges are drawn into “S” shapes against the horizon slithered away as racers cut blazing trails across their paths, disturbing the tranquil environment. This was no truer for anyone more than Skyler Howes #1. He flew over these massive ripples in the earth like the all-star he is, proving his worth to the Husqvarna Factory Racing team. A Waypoint waiting at the end of a CAP heading, Howes charged through the HP sections without notes, tracks or even a road to direct his trajectory. Just full speed over peaks and valleys, like the wind, unobstructed and free. He won this day without contest, fulfilling his personal goals of finishing First in every stage and securing the overall victory – fresh on the heels of his Triumph at the Rallye du Maroc.

“Obviously, Sonora [Rally] holds a special place [in my heart]. This was my first rally, kind of my start into the sport and why I was able to go to the Dakar for the first time. Now, we’re here as a factory racer, and I’m happy to have chalked up another win. This is my second win at Sonora, so I’m super happy for this, and I’m glad the team allowed me to be here and race this because it was incredibly good training. And just super fun to be here. I had a great time. I’m happy for my team and for my crew who came down to help out. This was really fun, not easy. It was obviously a tough five days, but we made it through clean so I’m super happy.”Skyler Howes #1, Husqvarna Factory Racing

While he seemed invincible all week at the 2022 Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, Howes wasn’t the only unstoppable athlete in the field from the front of the pack to the back. Success isn’t always determined by the accolades at the end but instead by the gravity of those burdens carried to the finish line on the shoulders of each racer. David Black #31 left the couch and began riding off-road just over a year ago. Inspired by his lifelong love of the Dakar Rally, he chose to turn his sedentary life around and pursue a (seemingly) impossible dream. The first day in the dunes, he dropped his bike “at least 25 times.” At the end of the stage, three blocks from the bivouac, he ran out of gas and had to push his motorbike to Timing & Scoring. And the final special was not any easier. Perhaps his off-bike moments may have reduced, but the obstacles were no less daunting, no less tiring. But if a man’s value should be measured by his heart, over ephemeral accomplishments, then Black left Sonora a champion.

The Rookies took the brunt of it, but they weren’t the only battle-worn soldiers in the field. Veteran to rally raid, passionate enthusiast and former volunteer of this event, Willem Avenant #25 had recovered from a broken leg earlier this year and was eager to jump back in the saddle. Already competing in two other races prior to his arrival in Hermosillo, under the Freedom Rally Racing umbrella. All things were going as planned for the South African (who had invited his friend and countryman Yugandhar Prasad Jasti #26 to join in the fun) this week, when at SS4, he endured some mechanical issues relating to his clutch. With the FRR coming through and managing to bring him to the Starting line for the finale, Avenant was hopeful for a clean break, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what he received. Suffering a crash which ultimately broke his collarbone. An abrupt end to an amazing run, it was a bittersweet goodbye to beloved friends, course and competition. But there wasn’t a grumble or a word of complaint from him at the ceremony. Instead, he was enjoying the little time he had left with a community he cared for and set his focus on the future.

Two days of true Dakar-style dunes in a row, with two fairly different scenes at Timing & Scoring. Back in El Golfo, people staggered and limped through the bivouac – bruised and beaten but content. However, in the closed street just outside of the Araiza Hotel in San Luis Rio Colorado, vehicles pulled into the avenue and settled under the Polaris arch to shake Race Director Darren Skilton’s hand, receive a Finisher medal and sip a specially brewed Sonora Rally cerveza. And while bruises were still present among the group, they were eclipsed by huge bright smiles. Organizers credit their ability to satisfy all the participants' needs and wants to the many partners involved, like Method Race Wheels, Polaris, Yokohama, Motul and Aventura Travel. But they point to the grassroots racers and resident pros who’ve inadvertently built this competition from the ground up as the key to their recent venture into the World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC) – an FIA/FIM sanctioned series kicking off with the Dakar. At Awards, Skilton was adamant to assure his guests that they are the core of the event. That he had no intention of squeezing them out in favor of the inevitable elite crowd attending this new round in the W2RC on April 22nd – 28th, 2023. And that the Sonora Rally would continue to incubate the budding rally raid community in North America to the best of their ability. And it was those individuals who stood atop each podium Saturday afternoon.

Jordan Huibregtse #18 traveled all the way from Indiana to Sonora for another time hoping only to finish the competition. And what he takes away from his second navigation race (ever) with a First Place Trophy in the Malle Moto class. An undertaking already challenging under normal circumstances. But to win a race in the most difficult class that exists in the roadbook world was an exceptional end to his journey. With limited supplies available to him, no mechanics at his aid, no team to cheer him on, Huibregtse was charged with conquering a Goliath and came out a hero. Positions Two and Three received $500 and $750, but Malle Moto sponsor Motul gifted Jordan with $1,000, further incentive to continue his path to greatness.

“I raced last year, and unfortunately, I blew my engine up on the last day. I was 50km from the end of the last stage, and the engine just locked up, dropping a valve. So, I was determined to come back and get a finish, get a good clean run in. I can’t be happier. This is as much as I could have hoped for. I was in a good spot to conserve my bike, conserve my body, today. Rode a safe race and brought it home, so really, really happy with the results. Something I’ll remember most are the dunes and just pushing through it. I struggle in the dunes, so to me, the beautiful scenery combined with how much suffering that scenery can put you through. But digging deep within yourself, and really finding that strength you need to keep going, keep pushing.” Jordan Huibregtse #18, Privateer in Motos

Another well-deserved award was given to American Rally Original rider, David Pearson #3, whose free entry to Dakar will likely be a bit of financial relief to the team as a whole. And it was just in time, as the five men – Pearson, Kyle McCoy #8, Mo Hart #9 and two who weren’t present, Jim Pearson and Paul Neff – prepare to leave for Saudi Arabia at the end of December. Their effort isn’t for themselves alone. It’s to represent the US as they attempt to break startling records taking every bike across the last finish in January among the Originals by Motul (Malle Moto) category. A feat not yet achieved by even one American, let alone a band of them. As the last opportunity to train before packing up and shipping off to the Middle East, the guys put their all into the Sonora Rally, and it seems to have paid off.

“Darren does a phenomenal job at these races. He really puts a good organization together and it was awesome this year. We did two big dune days in Stage Four and Five. It was demanding. I’ve been pushing hard all year to get onto the Dakar ticket, and if all goes well, I won the Road to Dakar today. So that’s coming off 16 days of racing between the Qatar** Rally, the Baja Rally and Sonora, so I’m very appreciative. We have a hell of a team, the American Rally Originals; We’re all going to the Dakar. We’re going to break a record being some of the first Americans to ever finish in the Originals by Motul (Malle moto) class in the Dakar in its 45-year run. Let’s go ARO. A huge thanks to KLIM for all my gear, and Giant Loop and Seat Concepts; everybody just put all the and support in so we’re just super excited. My wife has been awesome. ” – David Pearson #3, American Rally Originals

Hard work is a necessary component of a roadbook rally, yes. But to finish strong, especially at your first event, takes talent. Did we mention that Kevin DeJongh #21 rode in on a borrowed 16-year-old Honda CRF450X at the behest of his buddy Skyler? Because this is crucial information considering he nabbed Second Seed behind his “Husky” friend. Comrade of the pair, Brendan Crow #35 also displayed his skills on-track rounding out the podium in Motos. They shared a common goal: to finish. And when it was all said and done, the duo also shared a similar outcome. One which they are interested in repeating in the Spring, no doubt.

“This was my first navigation rally. It was fun; it was long. I’m pretty tired. Just learned that I have a bit of motion sickness in the dunes, which was not ideal the last two days. But other than that, it was a lot of fun – something new and cool to do, and I hope I can do more in the future.”Kevin DeJongh #21, Privateer in Motos

This win was more of an underdog story. A privateer native to Sonora who is up against a woman at the top of her game – and her sport. Daniel Gonzalez #55 is a figurehead at the Sonora Rally, volunteering and aiding the event since its inception several years ago. He’s always been involved and donated his time generously to help the organizers succeed to the best of their ability. And October 17th – 22nd, he stood up to the plate to bat for an outfield hit and landed a home run. With his partner Jorge Hernandez, the Polaris Mexico crew colored the course red, green and white after a grueling fight for disqualified entrant, Polaris Factory RZR’s Sara Price #51, and a more steadfast one for side-by-side #55. They don’t just bring this win home, they keep the trophy on Sonoran soil.

“We had made our plan just the night before Special Stage Four to run at a medium pace, drive safe and go Waypoint to Waypoint without losing time and ended up winning. So, at the hotel, we scanned our Polaris Turbo R from A to Z to make sure no harm was done and have it ready for Stage Five. After doing a full Inspection the RZR, everything was still in excellent shape, and the only change we did was put the larger tires back on, air them down – even using the same Gates G-Force Redline belt – then wished for a clean day. We did not know if it would be two or three UTVs in the field that next day. If something were to go wrong, we could still easily lose the rally. We decided to make a solid plan to not risk more than needed knowing more dunes were on the way to the finish line. The plan was to take our time, keep a safe pace and keep our eyes open because, this race being in the backyard of my hometown, I’ve seen it all when it comes to Dune Riding. In a blink of an eye, accidents happen. All we had to do was complete the Stage. We arrived at the start line and noticed only two of the three UTVs ready to go. Ours and our great new friends from Pennsylvania, Brock Harper and Steve Geist #52, Sarah Price was not able to get her car running again after the incident the day before.

Jorge, my Navigator said: ‘Daniel, this stage is like the Sunday drives you take all the time. We’ve got this. Then, he started singing “We Are the Champions” by Queen, followed by some rousing Banda music. It was such an amazing experience for both, but in my case, winning this event in my country, my state and, most importantly, my hometown of San Luis Rio Colorado left me speechless. We had so much support, including my good friend Poncho with whom I had started the Geek Racing Team. And a very special guest, my son Dany. He has learned so much about these machines from watching and helping me work on the machines at GR UTV Powersports, plus he has a talent all his own, which makes me proud to watch. Huge thanks to Darren and the team for creating this event. And to Polaris Mexico for giving us this opportunity in the first place!” Daniel Gonzalez #55, Polaris Mexico

What can you say about an event that’s provided adventure, sport and access to the world of rally to North American communities in a way no one else ever has? For just shy of a decade, the Sonora Rally has served up a platter of killer routes, rally towers, and a gateway to the Dakar, among many (many) other things. As a race approaching the event horizon, it’s important for the event to maintain its soul. To give back what it gets and remember where it started. That is what Darren’s has set his sights on. Much like the racers who attend this intimate, he’s steely-eyed and focused on a very specific outcome. One which honors its past but welcomes a different sort of future. Possibly more refined. Definitely with more international recognition and respect. Soon to have a larger presence of the global circuit in Mexico, with rally aristocracy shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals.

“We appreciate all of the volunteers, the racers and all of our sponsors who have brought us to this point, through a long tiring week. I’m just excited for the future of North American rally raid and just looking forward to having new competitors and an international field come and share the joy that is Sonora to do something unique and special. So, I just wanted to thank everybody, really and just enjoy that this year the rally was great. It was well organized, everything was done on time, the roadbooks were good, and I think the competitors really enjoyed it. We’re getting started on the next one already.”Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Race Director

Thank you to everyone who has supported this event by participating, volunteering or even just watching as the Sonora Rally traversed the Mexican state just south of Arizona. It couldn’t be possible without people’s continual friendship. To learn more, visit: https://sonorarally.com/ Or, follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

KEY NOTES

El Golfo to San Luis Rio Colorado; Liaison > 25 km & Special > 123 km

San Luis Rio Colorado is a border town adjacent to San Luis, Arizona and Baja California to the west. It’s the fourth largest community in the state, despite being quite young (awarded city status in 1958) in comparison to other Sonoran cities all with roots dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The city is one of the gateways to the impressive Gran Desierto de Altar. It was also once an important inland port for steamers traveling the Colorado from the Gulf of California. But since the early 1900s, the Colorado has been completely or nearly completely drained for irrigation. The once-formidable Colorado is usually dry or a small stream.

In the morning the Altar dunes were a bit moist and cold, giving riders (and drivers) a solid surface to circumnavigate for a while. This helped the group shorten the gap between them on-course. While Skyler Howes #1 maintained a solid distance away from the other strongest riders, they managed to stay on his tail – relatively – throughout the day. While the motos all made a great show of the final roadbook route, Howes still managed to put almost two hours behind himself and friend Kevin DeJongh #21 who nabbed a remarkable Second Overall placement in his very first rally raid.

This iteration of the Sonora Rally hosted teams from all over North America and the world. Dedicated racers and enthusiasts willing to travel hundreds to thousands of miles just to reach the starting line in Hermosillo. UTV #52, Brock Harper and Steve Geist, brought their team all the way from Pennsylvania, and they weren’t the only representation from the eastern side of the United States. John Henson #11 ventured from Georgia with a friend he convinced to fall in love with rally. Jordan Huibregtse #18 made a trip to his second year at the rally from Indiana. And much of the Freedom Rally Racing team home bases out of Kansas. But the borders are broader than that.

Of course, the Canadians made a big showing – as they usually did before the pandemic – this year: Matthew Glade #13, Jordan Reed #14, Grant Cousar #16, Rick Hatswell #23, Etienne Gelinas #29, David Beggs, #32 and Anthony Bonello #36. But it goes a bit further. Friends from all over the world have a presence at the competition. Olof Sundstrom #22 jumped the pond from Sweden. Plenty of Mexican locals like Patrick Reyes Morrison #7, Daniel Gonzalez and Jorge Hernandez #55 made their presence known. And to round it out, the furthest traveled racers came all the way from South Africa: Willem Avenant #25 and Yugandhar Prasad Jasti #26. If nothing else, this displays the sincere international recognition which Sonora Rally is given, and graciously accepts.

The big announcement this week has marked a milestone for Sonora Rally and the North American off-road racing community as a whole. But many in the US and Canada, and even Mexico, don’t quite understand the significance of this achievement. The World Rally-Raid Championship (officially abbreviated as W2RC) was created by the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) and co-sanctioned by the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Autombile) and FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) to offer a global rally raid series culminating in international titles for the four-wheeled and two-wheeled categories. As of 2022, this series replaced both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship as the top echelon of the sport of rally raid. The ASO will serve as series promoter for a period of five years, and they recently (as we all know) inducted two new events to their calendar: the Andalucía Rally in Spain and, of course, the Sonora Rally in Mexico.

QUOTES:
Anthony Bonello #36, REV’IT!: “Today was awesome. It felt longer than any other stage, even though I was still having tons of fun. But I kissed my roadbook here after the backside of a dune. Just a big camel grass hump and it was fresh sand just two feet left of the track…I wasn’t going fast, but I just got eaten and spat out. Thankfully, I was ok. Just a fat lip. A Little check-up – motivation to just finish. Don’t be silly. And so, we’re here! I realize now, finishing is not easy, so I’m just happy to be here. Amazing event with such good people from the top guys like Skyler who are super humble to the guys that are here just finishing, like Yuga and David Black, those guys, just so much determination and heart. Really, really cool. Very happy. I’m probably only going to have one chance to win anything in a rally, so I’ll take the Enduro class gladly before they (apparently) put me into the next category. If I make Top Ten with everybody, I’ll be really proud. [He took 9th.]”

Ace Nilson #5, Privateer in Motos: “Today was a good day. I tried to just be smooth, not make any navigation errors, try to avoid crashing, which I only did a couple times, so it was good. Overall, a great route. There were a few penalties which I wish I could reverse, but that’s okay. That’s what rally is all about. We overcame a lot of obstacles to get here and to finish and given the attrition rate this year, we’re really happy to be here at the finish. One step closer to Dakar 2023, which is our ultimate goal. So, we’ll keep training, continuing to get in better shape. We ship out in December, so there’s a little bit more fundraising to do between now and then to be ready to go. We have T-shirts available to help raise money, just hit me up on Instagram or Facebook, and I’d be happy to send you one.”

Brendan Crow, #55 Privateer in Motos: “I’m honestly surprised I made it here, and then to even finish Third is even better. I’m just happy with that. I really enjoyed it this week, it was a lot of fun. Honestly, I’m a little speechless. I’m just happy that I made it here all in one piece. Had a good ride today, pretty smooth, just tried to take it easy, not doing anything stupid and throw it away (or anything like that). I didn’t have any navigation issues – fell over once quickly but nothing major. After my crash on Thursday, I’ve been on a lot of Tylenol and Advil trying to make it through the day, and it worked out. Luckily, the dunes (as hard as they are) were relatively smooth, versus rough, so it was easy. I could sit down a lot. Take a lot of the stress off my arms, which was really helpful. I’d love to come race Sonora again and I’d love to do more rallies, but it’s not cheap, so if I can find some support, we’ll see what we can do! But I’d love to do more. Sonora is close to California, so I definitely think I’ll come back here.”

Patrick Reyes Morrison #7: We made it to the end, thanks to Sebastian [Olarte #28]. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish, but graciously lent me half of his bike…We put my front forks, navigation tower and made it to the end, so I’m very, very grateful. [Sebastian: And I’m grateful to [Patrick] because thanks to him, a little piece of me made it to the finish. So he made it for both of us.]

TOP FIVE STAGE RESULTS

MOTO PRO
1. #1 Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna Factory Racing – 1:47:30
2. #21 Kevin DeJongh (USA), Privateer – 2:05:41
3. #35 Brendan Crow (CAN), Privateer – 2:13:32
4. #14 Jordan Reed (USA), Privateer – 2:19:20
5. #6 Nathan Rafferty (USA), Freedom Rally Racing – 2:23:09

MALLE MOTO
1. #8 Kyle McCoy (AUS), American Rally Originals – 2:20:40
2. #18 Jordan Huibregtse (USA), Privateer – 2:21:14
3. #3 David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals – 2:31:54
4. #34 Brett Fox (USA), REV’IT! – 3:25:17
5. #22 2 Olof Sundstrom (SWE), Privateer – 6:39:06

MOTO ENDURO
1. #36 Anthony Bonello (CAN), REV’IT! – 2:25:54
2. #5 Morrison Hart (USA), American Rally Originals – 2:52:00
3. #17 Clayton Zimmerman (USA), Freedom Rally Racing – 2:53:10
4. #27 Patrick De Chastonay (USA), Privateer – 2:55:50
5. #11 John Henson (USA), Privateer – 3:00:53

UTV MODIFIED
1. #55 Daniel Gonzalez (MEX) and Jorge Hernandez (MEX), Privateer – 3:16:21
2. #52 Brock Harper (USA) and Steve Geist (USA), Privateer – 5:16:39

Source Sonora Rally
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Sonora Rally 2022: Surmounts SS4, But Not Without Any Casualties

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Paying the Penultimate Price

On paper, Special Stage Four was supposed to be fairly straightforward. Low kilometers, only a few topographical transitions… Simple right? The word floating around the bivouac after much of the racers had finally passed Timing & Scoring: carnage. Vehicles scattered the Altar desert – upright, upside-down, sideways – like bugs on flypaper, struggling to free themselves of the sand and buzz away as quickly as possible. An unusual number of mechanical issues, plus the predictable number of incidents and injuries were symptoms of hot conditions, exhausted athletes and a punishing course. Add a bit of tricky notes to the equation and you have the formula for glory. And maybe a bit of pain too. But there were, and always are in rally, multiple factors affecting the circumstances for many competitors. Rookies take the brunt of the daily ass whoopings. They are often their own determinant on the course due to a lack of experience, whether that’s with the landscape, the *roadbook, management of time, machine and well-being. But this can be said for the seasoned racers as well. No one is impervious of heat stroke, fatigue and navigation errors. Even Husqvarna Factory rider Skyler Howes #1 felt challenged by the special.

“Stage Four of Sonora Rally was the big dunes day, and it’s quite physically demanding. There aren’t many places out there to get a breather. It’s either all camel grass or big dunes, which was pretty cool, and good for me for the fitness and seeing where we’re at there. And it was also pretty warm. Up to the refueling, it was a lot of hard work, you had to stay on your toes with the navigation as well, plus the temperature was warm, so it was just a lot going on. After the refueling, we switched directions in the dunes, and it became really, really fun because you could jump over a lot of stuff. Yeah, it was fun. A super fun day, but hot, demanding and physical. But relatively short, so pretty good. And I nailed the navigation today, no guessing, no circles. Just a lot of fun. And we’re looking forward to the final day tomorrow.”Skyler Howes #1, Husqvarna Factory Racing

If the course was putting Howes to the test, no doubt, it had put most of the group through a bonafide Hero’s Quest. Many of whom lost this battle of attrition. And none by surrender. The fight today was hard. Harder than anything else at times. And while a few ultimately succumb, others reach deep for some inner strength to carry, if not drag, them across the Finish line. Even those who did endure an injury, went back to the bivy with smiles plastered on their faces. Yugi Jasti #28 has only really been riding off-road for a year. A motorcyclist for ages, when he eventually tried dirt, he found that he had a taste for it. And devoured it as often as possible at home in Johannesburg. But still, even with as much seat time he’s had in the last 365 days, the dunes are a whole other level of skill to obtain. Killing his bike just before a crest, his attempted downward turn to try again resulted in a tumble and a broken collar bone.

Meanwhile, just past the first set of dunes, Malle Moto hopeful Matt Sutherland #2 had a serious off-bike moment which left him with a lacerated groin. Compatriot Ace Nilson #5 came upon him and Jordan Huibregte who unfortunately had first aid kit or experience to properly assist. So, Nilson dove right in. After dressing Sutherlands wound, waiting for the extraction team, it was time for Ace to continue his race. Even those who crawled back to the ASS undoubtedly picked up their vessel many times over. From the outside looking in at the bivouac, it looked post-apocalyptic. Zombies with hunched shoulders, limps and dazed look on their faces, wandered around the grounds wearing athletic tape in search of Tecates, and incident forms. But oddly enough, the “undead” still seemed pretty lively, if not excited for what’s to come.

“The day went really well. It went a lot better than I thought it would. After yesterday and even this morning, I didn’t think I would make it through the day. My shoulder was hurt pretty badly [yesterday], and I couldn’t move it at all this morning. Took a bunch of painkillers and warmed up, probably, halfway through the stage. I took the very beginning pretty easy, at this point I figured I was trying to make it to the end. Warmed up, caught a bunch of guys who were stuck on a little bit of a note that was tricky, and that got me excited. I felt like, alright, we’re good. I can do this. So I pushed a little harder from through the gas stop and finished Third today. So, from thinking I wasn’t going to ride to that, I am really happy with how it ended up.” Brendan Crow, #35, Privateer in Motos

Some pilots actually had an altogether great experience. A flawless ride, in fact. Brendan Crow #35, who’s vying for podium in his class, overall and the Road to Dakar challenge, didn’t think he’d ride today. He’d exacerbated an old injury on SS3, iced it and still found it a bit stiff in the morning. Yet, his instinct told him to continue and see how it goes, which paid off because after warming up his body and brain a bit, Crow was able to steadily work his way to a Second-Place finish. Another promising figure is Edgar Cota #30 who survived food poisoning, which led to heat exhaustion which somehow didn’t stand in the way of a strong conclusion to an arduous special. Making his navigation debut at the Sonora Rally, he plucked the Second seed from the pod.

“Today went really well. The first three stages were really fast, and it took me a little longer than I expected to find a good rhythm and become comfortable. On top of that, I became really sick yesterday and had to fight my way through the day. Towards the end of Stage Three, I became really dizzy and had to get treatment last night in order to be ready for today. I woke up this morning and felt a lot better. I really enjoyed today’s stage in the dunes. The more technical terrain really suited my riding style and I felt great on the bike. Finishing 2nd overall for today is a lot closer to my expectations so I will go to bed a lot happier tonight. I’m looking forward to carrying this momentum into the final stage tomorrow and have another fun day out here with everyone.” Edgar Cota #30, Privateer in Motos

Parallels were certainly drawn by the four-wheel classes as well. A previous incident damaging their cooling system eventually closed the door on car #51 Sara Price and Sean Berriman’s chances at a victory. Even after a low-key crash, tipping on their side, the pair had lost significant time due to the mechanical problems. So, with a heavy heart, Price pulled out of the running, making UTV #55 the strongest candidate for First. Theirs was another of those perfect races. No mechanical, navigational or personal struggles stepped in the way of their clear path to the day’s podium.

“So, today was a dunes day – that’s what it’s called at the Sonora Rally when we go down the dunes, almost to San Luis [Rio Colorado] and then come back to El Golfo. It was gnarly. It was really difficult, but, I mean, me being a hometown guy, I tried to use that as an advantage. Even though it’s not the same because I have to follow Waypoints; I have to follow rules; I have to follow navigation. But we did really well. Nothing went wrong with the car. Everything went perfectly with our Pro R from Polaris. It’s an awesome car. It handled great. We planned on using different tires for this stage, and it worked perfectly. And we brought the win today for Stage Four, and yesterday, we also got the win for Stage Three, so that puts us at a really good advantage to bring home the Sonora Rally trophy.”Daniel Gonzalez #55, Privateer in UTVs

It started near the train tracks, everything blanketed in a heavy, wet mist. As if set in a horror film, the racecourse offered a touch of gloom to an already daunting stage. The eerie quiet switches the mood from sleepy to menacing. Just out the gate, competitors endured tens of kilometers of bumpy, inconsistent ripples of sand providing both soft and hard-packed textures. With wiry bushes and camel grass spring up in every direction as yet another test of skill, focus and willpower. The final obstacle before being allowed to enter the dunes. This was, without a doubt, snake country. Snake tracks crossed over little critters and coyotes and whatever else left uncomfortably large paw prints in the ground. In the horizon, rocky giants loom over the ethereal dunes like a shadow. There’s just something about the Altar Desert that is so enchanting. The towering piles of enormous dunes, faces on which lives have been gambled. Some hit the jackpot. Most others go home losers, but they can go home. There are few, however, who risk everything and have lost the bet on life. The dunes aren’t to be messed with. They evolve and adapt and have a personality, albeit subtle. And to be a part of that, lost in the sea of ever-changing sand, is special. You could have never seen one, maybe never even heard the word “dune” before, but if you find yourself amongst them, something changes. Your soul shifts and the world and your values become something boundless. It’s inevitable. If your heart is in rally, your heart is in the dunes.

There’s one more opportunity to witness these juggernauts of the desert during Special Stage Five – the finale of the 2022 Sonora Rally presented by Method Race Wheels. To enjoy these incredible experiences for yourself, check out the Sonora Rally Facebook Page for stories, updates and inspirational posts. To learn more about the event, visit: https://sonorarally.com/. Or just follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

QUOTES:
Brett Fox #5, Privateer in Motos: “Today was a lot of fun. The big bikes can work well in the dunes, but they will become hot. [My Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro] was definitely overheating on me a bit, so I had to pace myself and the bike to make sure the bike didn’t blow. But the big bikes work well! But there were some dunes that I couldn’t make it up; they were so high, so steep that I just had to navigate around. But for the vast majority of the dunes, if you find the right speed, cut at an angle and drop over, you can make it. If you don’t make it to the top, that’s where things go wrong because you have this big, heavy bike facing up a dune, and you then have to drag the front end down and try to lift it up while the sand is sifting underneath you…and then the bike starts sliding down the hill with the sand, that’s where you wear yourself out. So, when riding a big bike in the dunes, if you can’t make the crest of the dune, bail out. Not like off the bike but cut the dune and come back down to try again. I went every which way with that bike. I fell short of some dune. I sent it a little hard at a crest and went flying, but hey the bike was on the other side of the dune, so I was happy. But there are other times that I just knew I couldn’t make it, so I would [as mentioned] cut the crest, drop back down into the bowl and get another speed run and make it over.”
Jorge Hernandez #55, Privateer in UTVs: “It was a fun day in the sand. We were able to play with some of the best riders in the business. Bikes were fast. We caught up with several of them, had fun in the dunes, and we came back with First Place. Actually, I think we were the only car to come in with four wheels, so that’s not a bad thing to do on a Friday evening.”
Ace Nilson #5, Privateer in Motos: “I came across Matt Sutherland [in the dunes]. Jordan Huibregtse was on scene, but he didn’t have any supplies or medical training, so I told him to go on. I assessed Matt, and he had a laceration in his groin which needed to be addressed. So, we cleaned it, packed it and taped him up, then called for help. I waited until the extraction team came, and then I got back underway with my race.”

 

Source Sonora Rally
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Sonora Rally 2022: On Empty Streets

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SS2 Takes Racers to the Middle of Nowhere, Fast

Today was about nothing. The sort of nothing that, from far enough away, looks like a Bob Ross painting of the desert – picturesque, serene, even a little happy. Everything seeming barren and stiff from a distance, surreal from an impersonal vantage point. Beautiful, but empty. Too perfect to be reality. But upon approaching this ostensive depiction of the outdoors, it begins to surround you. The cheetah-spotted mountain ranges from over the horizon are actually saguaro forests plastered across giant mounds of loose quartzite and sand. The flawless shapes you once saw become crooked and oblong up-close, delightfully bizarre and dynamic and anything but lifeless. Vultures perch in alarming numbers watching as you pass (should something happen to you, of course). Miniature reptiles of varying sizes scamper into nearby bushes and the occasional bunny makes an appearance before it too finds cover from the steely eyes of a predator. Come close enough and the desert lights up, it consumes you as it becomes alive. Yet, Sonora’s biosphere is still somehow quiet. No artificial sounds could be heard for miles in some places, so it made the familiar buzz of small displacement combustion engines only that more distinct against the breeze. A nothingness which to its visitors was really something.

”Stage Two of the Sonora Rally was one of my favorites to race because towards the first part of the special, we get into this big cactus and flowing two-track that takes us to the edge of the water. It was a lot of fun to ride through there and the scenery was really beautiful. One of my favorite stages so far. After the refueling, it opened up fast. The navigation wasn’t so difficult today. A couple of tricky notes, but otherwise pretty smooth sailing…It was fun to ride, and we’re excited for the next day!” – Skyler Howes #1, Husqvarna Factory Raci

Stages like this are why people love the Sonora Rally. And rally raid in general. Roadbooks which take people deep into the remotest parts of the planet to uncover virgin territory (at least to many), learn the history of a region, its culture, if any, and engage with the locals. Even the sensory experience can be visceral. The taste of wind and dirt coat your mouth when you pick up speed. Even interesting smells find their way past the helmet, like the scent of asparagus drifting over the tracks from the nearby fields, picked twice a day because their thrive in this environment. Racers could glimpse the Sea of Cortez just over the horizon, although the water was never too close. And being no cooler than yesterday, you could really feel warmth from the sun’s touch – comfortable for only a moment before it became overbearing. Competitors already struggled with multiple elements on-course, and again, also needed to manage their internal temperature. Many jumping on the opportunity to drink a little extra water in the shade before carrying on. While others, like our top contenders, sailed through this fast course with a vengeance.

Few of the pilots are moving slowly enough to look around or fast enough to take a break. Most are buried in road books when they aren’t caught in their tunnel, the line of sight focused solely on the next move. In Modified UTVs, Polaris Factory RZR’s Sara Price, with copilot Sean Berriman, #51 had plenty of time to soak up the scene, if they wanted. Not suffering any mishaps or penalties, there was nothing obstructing their path to victory (for the second time). Sonoran natives Daniel Gonzalez and navigator Jorge Hernandez #55 ran their own race, landing in Second Place today with a 33-minute gap behind the leaders. While there weren’t too many hiccups on-piste, the team did spend some time on minor repairs in their hotel parking lot after their return from the special. All the while, Americans Brock Harper (USA) and Steve Geist #52 have made a steady go of things, which in the end, kept them at the third in the standings. Amongst the other four-wheeled vessels, privateers Luis Perocarpi and partner Clayton Williams #53 endured issues with their Isuzu in the previous round which ultimately ended their efforts. They collected a DNF while opponents Larry Trim and John Koeth #54 made good time in their Jeep Speed Grand Cherokee. You couldn’t say the cars are moving slowly, but the tight passageways and rocky roads didn’t let them stay on the gas.

“The stage today went really well. It was a very fast track, which allowed us to run a really fast pace. Congrats to Sara [Price], again, for winning Stage Two. It’s been great. I’ve been here as a volunteer, helping our Erin and Darren with Sonora rally, but now as a participant for the race, it changes a whole lot of things. Now I see everything that’s been done, and come through, until now with the Sonora Rally; now that it’s going to be part of the World Rally Championship, that means a lot because I’ve been with them since the beginning. I’m really happy for them, and I intend to continue participating in the event – whether it’s to race or as a volunteer – to keep this going.”Daniel Gonzalez, #55 Privateer

While surely the cars in the Modified and Adventure categories ate up the loose terrain, but the many miles of slippery, soft beach wash were a cruel punishment for some of the riders. Even when those nutty masochists love the pain… Yugi Jasti #26 ventured all the way from South Africa to take on the Sonora Rally after only a year of true off-road experience. But, as he says, “if I’m ever going to race Dakar, I just have to go for it.” A sentiment which seems common in this year’s pack. Plenty of rookies are challenging the Mexican state of Sonora this year, several of them hopefuls to win the Road to Dakar, granting free entry for this January’s edition. Pro class athlete Brendan Crow #35 is currently first in line and finished Second in the Special. However, Malle Moto’s winner today, Matt Sutherland #2, isn’t going to let him have it without a fight. But they it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. And while David Pearson #3, isn’t shouting his successes, the American Rally Original is a smart, consistent rider who – by the law of rally raid – is just as likely to take this victory as anyone. If nothing else, we’re sure he’ll be glad to nab a podium step in his category.

On the other side of the spectrum, guys like Kevin DeJongh #21 live in the edge of traction. Eating up the arroyos for breakfast. A Baja 1000 veteran – and occasional teammate of Howes – DeJongh felt at home during the second special. This carried on until ASS (the finish of the timed sector), putting him in the third seat today, maintaining Second overall. Howes was also at home over the multifaceted topography between Bahia Kino and Caborca. Most people find intimidating at best and terrifying at worst. Cruising over wide grated roads, soaring across demanding sandy washes and atop rocky outcroppings which he climbs like a Billy goat. Which is why he is victorious for another stage. And, yes, he has a twenty-minute advantage, but this is rally. Anything can happen. And because in a roadbook race, the land, your pace, even your willpower doesn’t replace solid navigation.

Diespro rider, Columbian-America Sebastian Olarte #28, felt that pain, and perhaps Murphy’s Law, firsthand: “It was quite a journey. At the beginning of the stage, a pine post 4-to-5-inch diameter went through the bike, dented the header, broke my radiator and perforated the gas tank. I rode for about 40 miles until I hit the road with that stick hanging on my bike – not being able to turn to the right. On the road I took it out, fixed the radiator and tank with fiberglass and J-B weld, which took me over an hour. I was going without the water in the radiator and cooling, and without the clutch and power to the wheels for 80-to-90 miles. Right at the end, it was tough; I was tired. I broke my RallyComp as well. And two hundred meters before the finish it died completely. I pushed it to the ASS, and then Brett [Fox #34] helped and towed me at the liaison.”

"It can’t be said enough, this is rally. If it can happen, it will. And so teams, racers and staff must always be prepared for anything. Trying not to be too enchanted by ethereal allure. As competitors sliced through the narrow passages hidden under a canopy of desert flora, passages which eventually opened up to dry valleys, ledges and the occasional sandbox, knowing that with every type of earth on-course comes some new obstacle. A test of mind, body and machine, indifferent to your dreams and willing to remove you from the equation if you don’t add up. When the stakes are high and money, goals and glory are on the line… When the nothing of Sonora makes you go to battle for something that you love. When the rigors of rally occasionally beckon pilots to use velocity over finesse, it’s best to open up the throttle, step on the gas and take opportunity when it presents itself. Because much like Stage Two, the race and life, when it’s over, there’s no going back."

Stay tuned to the 2022 Sonora Rally presented by Method Race Wheels all week long, from October 17th – 22nd, to watch all the excitement south of the border. To learn more, visit: https://sonorarally.com/ Or, follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

KEY NOTES
Bahia Kino to Caborca; Liaison > 42 km & Special > 235 km

Special Stage Three (SS3) takes 458 kilometers – L1 14 - SS 274 - L2 180 – in a completely different environment. It’s the first set of dunes, and the center of a true Dakar-style event. Although these aren’t yet the mammoth mountains of sand we’ll see further north in the Desierto del Altar, the region near El Gulfo is sure to add new dimension to the challenges, wonderous sights to take in and fresh perspectives This bivouac will be a two-night stay as it hosts a loop for SS4.

Four years in the making, the Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, has officially been added to the World Rally Championship calendar. The announcement was made on social media today but will be presented with a thoughtful explanation of the significance and how changes will affect all involved – which organizers see as positive for everyone. Much needs to be done to prepare for the road ahead, but as it’s always been grateful to have, the administers looks to the support and love from the racers, volunteers, staff and media to ensure the event doesn’t lose its essence or core values.

Brendan Crow #35 is another “rookie” who finished Second so far, only 10 minutes after Howes today. He’s raced National Hare and Hounds in California for a long time, as well as gran-prix, motocross and everything he can do with a bike. When he’s raced MX he doesn’t push his body or bike very hard, so he enjoys that “nav” factor allows him to be smarter in a competition, rather than racing as fast as possible. He’s also done only a handful of multi-day events, although the longest ever was only three days, so this is his longest race to date. But sitting on the Third step in the general classification and leading the Road to Dakar challenge, Crow has set a promising trajectory for himself.

QUOTES:
Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Race Director: “It’s been my dream, ever since I started racing, to bring the World Rally Championship, or a Dakar-Style event, to North America. It’s something I’ve been discussing with David Castera for four years now, and I’ve pushed to make it happen. I want to stress to the racers, the volunteers and everyone who’s helped us along this journey that despite the big changes ahead of us, there’s still going to be a place for you. You’re the heart of this event. This is a big year for North America, a big year for the World Championship. The reason we created the Sonora Rally was to give people a low-stress environment to learn about what a real roadbook rally is like. And we want those people, who are the spirit of this rally, to be part of this future.
Part of the discussions have been about that, which the governing organizations are one hundred percent behind that. Yes, it’s going to be a transition. Yes, it’s going to another event; the officials will be coming over from Europe, but at its core, this rally will still exist for the North American and European communities. I don’t know who is familiar with David, but he’s the reason there are rallies in Morocco, Andalusia… I think we have a good recipe. We have a lot of work to do. But if everything goes well, we’ll be welcoming a lot of new people to Sonora. And this is a big thing for North America, so I want to thank the racers, the support and the volunteers.”

Brendan Crow, #35, Privateer in Motos: “I have won the KTM Adventure Challenge 2019, which was going to offer me the opportunity to ride a 790 at the Merzouga Rally in 2020. But COVID ended up cancelling everything. But I’ve wanted to do a rally since then. I was training on roadbooks at home, and I attended the Sonora School back in 2020. But this is the first event I’ve raced. The first day, I started 29th and had a lot of people to pass and tracks to follow. Today was a bit more difficult. We followed the road for a while, but it was too fast – a bit dangerous. I’m interested to see how it goes tomorrow, especially when we hit the dunes, officially, on the last two days.”

Sara Price #51, Polaris Factory RZR: “Today was a fast, solid stage! Such beautiful sights along the beach and through some of the washes. We had a flawless day!”

Jordan Reed #14, Freedom Rally Racing: “This is my first rally. Probably the fourth set of [road]books. We’re not doing bad, just trying to keep up speed. Made a big mistake this morning which probably cost me about 15 minutes. I became a bit lost. So, I just kept holding it south because I did not want to look at my ODO [odometer] or my speedometer at 140kph. And so we had to hold it wide open to catch back up to Willem. And Willem and I damn near were within seconds of each other for over a three-our race, which was pretty cool. But sometime while I was behind him, I had seen his dust in the wash and tried to pin it. That’s when I felt something hit my ass. Apparently my seat had come off! Either way looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully, making less mistakes.”

 

Source Sonora Rally
Photo WESTx1000

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Sonora Rally 2022: Day One of the Sonora Rally Doesn’t Disappoint

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SS1 was many things, but above all else, it was hot. Grueling in fact. The sort of heat that engulfs everything and holds it in place. A momentary breeze offered temporary reprieve for bystanders waiting, relatively motionless, under an overbearing sun. Teasing the skin as it brushed past. In much of the stage, vistas were wide, the light was bright, and the shade was nowhere to be found. Birds called to each other from distant branches in short, staccato bursts proving that life is possible in this desert. But only for some. Most of which lay dormant during the daylight hours in sand lairs and stone dens encircled by ancient saguaro, wiry bushes and brambles. A natural security gate keeping out unwanted guests. Visitors not so unlike these unwary rally racers. Pilots with eyes set on only two places: the roadbook and the route. Minor details going unnoticed if not explicitly marked in their notes. A product of necessity, which occasionally sends a rider (more) off-road to tackle a similarly unsuspecting cacti.

What the earth here lacked over the 227 kilometers of Mexican racecourse was complexity. While yes, there are nuances to all landscapes, even the most featureless. But for an event like the 2022 Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, this type of void meant exactly that statement. Race Director Darren Skilton wanted to rip the Band-Aid off at the premiere of the race. With his leadership, the ORGA made navigation the key feature of the special and let participants dive head into what is often quite intimidating. Even all-stars like Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Rally #1, can be apprehensive about starting a stage without a single set of tracks to guide him. But he’s a Pro, and despite a few minor mistakes, he made quick of an otherwise demanding special. Nothing technical. But fast. Real fast. Completing the course a touch under three hours, an hour earlier than predicted, Howes surprisingly wasn’t the most impressive competitor on the course in Stage One.

Despite the higher temps, there was no shortage of gumption on the course, especially by the lone competitor close enough to Skyler’s tail to give up any speed. Australian Matt Sutherland #2 was on-point at the very end, finding a spot behind the day’s stage winner, but an 11-minute penalty and a further outstanding show by his rivals didn’t leave him enough of a time to put the factory pro behind him... Today. A prominent figure in the Baja desert scene, Kevin DeJongh wowed the proverbial crowd as he, almost seamlessly, conquered almost half the competitor lineup starting in 17th and finishing at 2nd for stage and the Overall. Howes jokes that he was the reason DeJongh entered this rally. He recalls, proudly, telling his Baja 1000 comrade to leave the confines of a closed course – “to cut the tape” – and join a rally raid already. According to the Sonora 2019 Champion, Kevin is a natural talent: a sleeper rally racer. If his presentation on-course gives us any evidence of his chance at victory, then the quickest of the bunch are in for a five-day brawl.

“The day was good. We started in the back at 17th, possibly, and was Fourth, physically, at the finish. No major mistakes. The speed zones definitely came up fast. There were only two minutes of penalty, so that was good. Had some tracks to follow in the tricky parts towards the end and made it in one piece ready for Day Two.”Kevin De Jongh, #21 Privateer

Side-by-sides made their own memorable entrance, merely an hour after the first bike. Daniel Gonzalez and co-pilot Jorge Hernandez #55 gave chase to their factory pro counterpart, but Sara Price and navigator Sean Berriman #51 had managed to put a big gap between them early on. It’s likely the only thing that saved their spot at the top when they ultimately suffered a wiring issue, setting them back some minutes before Berriman whipped up a solution. Sara’s win today doesn’t feel like a surprise. But with three UTVs on the board, four more days ahead and a capricious countryside to contend with, the caged class is far from decided. It was, nonetheless, a tricky roadbook, uncomplicated terrain and long stretches of off-piste badlands. The final kilometers were some of the more competitive between the racers, but that’s not to say the rest of the pack didn’t share their own combat stories. Between a couple of the ARO boys, Freedom Rally Racing’s toughest and a couple strong privateers, little air was left to breath when riding through some obstacles, they were so tightly packed. Others followed suit, albeit several minutes behind the first batch of riders and even more after the leaders.

A few took every opportunity to send it, while the rest chose a steadier approach, unwilling to lose precious time making navigation mistakes over a few moments of pure unadulterated bliss. But well into the course, the fight was still raging between the top four with the Pro podium eventually filled by Howes on First, DeJongh taking the next step and privateer Brendan Crow #35 just below. In the Enduro category, rookie and dreamer, Patrick De Chastoney #27 was paid back for all his hard work with a triumph. Rounding out the race was Jordan Huibregtse #18 sitting pretty in the Malle Moto category. It should be mentioned that whatever they all endured, now the Malle Moto hopefuls must assess, maintain, and possibly repair anything the bike requires. All before that cold, sweet first cerveza from Aventura in the Polaris bivouac at beautiful Bahia Kino. Slumber will be inevitable for some and a luxury for others. But the next day is due to skim the coastline of Cortez.

“Special Stage One was a fun day filled with a lot of adventure! We were running a great pace, until we had some wiring issues turning off our rally equipment. Sean was quick to require on the go to get us back up and going, and we still ended up being the first car to finish! It was a good day.” – Sara Price, Polaris Factory RZR

The sun set on a perfect mini-celebration after a tough day of nav. Winding up to wind down, drinks were imbibed to warm up the stomach for a fulfilling meal of ceviche tostadas, fillet of fish, paella, carne and frijoles. Polaris provided attendees an epic bivouac with beautiful views of the sea and surrounding islands as team, staff, volunteers and media mingled, ate and were merry before the next collection of challenges would come their way. Race Day One is never so resolute that we know the outcome before it arrives. And with fresh tracks tomorrow, the vibe is sure to set a new pace.

Stay tuned to the 2022 Sonora Rally presented by Method Race Wheels all week long, from October 17th – 22nd, to watch all the excitement south of the border. To learn more, visit: https://sonorarally.com/ Or, follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

KEY NOTES
Hermosillo to Bahia Kino; Liaison > 43 km & Special > 224 km

Wednesday’s Special Stage Two (SS2) will be sand, sand and more sand, buzzing up the coast of the Sea of Cortez. From beautiful Bahia Kino to Caborca in northern Sonora, the rally will move another 277 kilometers – L1 38 - SS 235 - L2 4 – in a completely different environment. This bivouac will be a two-night stay as it hosts a loop for SS3.
Bahia Kino is an unassuming seaside town considered to have one of the most beautiful coastlines in Mexico. Upon approach, the scene appears sleepy. Quiet, simple and uncluttered. A wall of homes and small dunes block the renowned view of the Sea of Cortez, which perhaps adds to the allure when it finally reveals itself to the unsuspecting visitor. Some of the first historic residents of the region were possibly documented by Padre Eusebio Kino in 1685. By the early 1920s, a small fishing village established what is popularly considered an early part of the present city, if you could call it that with only 6,000 – 8,000 permanent residents.
With the first heat behind us, it’s our first glimpse of how each class may shape up by the finale in San Luis Rio Colorado. It’s not a surprise that desert racing queen, Sara Price, and her go-to navigator, Sean Berriman #51, are on the top step today. They were cool and collected through the route, passing several motos to reach the winner’s circle, even after a mystery wiring issue held them up. The Moto Pro class offered a hell of a battle, led at the front by Skyler Howes #1. The real surprise performance was by Kevin DeJongh #21 who moved up the ranks from 17th position to 4th, landing him Second Place. Our friend, Patrick De Chastoney #27, is apparently living up to his dream to race rallies, nabbing the first position in Enduros, while SR alum, Jordan Huibregtse #18, took the Malle Moto victory.
Special Stage One offered fairly subdued physical challenges, with vast, featureless landscapes – albeit still picturesque in many areas. Instead, the roadbook gave navigators plenty to think about on-course. The only other serious challenge to face was the peak temperature of 95-degrees Fahrenheit at the height of the sun. Yet each racer survived everything thrown at them resulting in a 100% participant conclusion.
The Adventure Class is back once again, if not a bit more modest in size, to feature two four-wheel-drive vehicles. One determined entry, piloted by Larry Trim and John Koeth #54, made good time, falling behind Polaris star Sara Price in the #51 RZR. Not bad for a Jeep Speed Grand Cherokee. Luis Perocarpi and Clayton Williams #53 too were testing the limits of man and machine in the desert today, however it seemed from the course perspective, they had some trouble with their Isuzu VX. But that didn’t stop them from crossing the line in a respectable time. While this category isn’t calculated into the standings, their presence at the race is still just as impactful, showing fans and hopefuls what sort of vessels are eligible, if not capable, of taking on a competition such as the Sonora Rally.

QUOTES:
Skyler Howes, #1 Husqvarna Factory Racing: “Stage One of the Sonora Rally went really well for me. I opened the special and led out from start to finish. A couple of the areas towards the end became a bit tricky with no tracks to follow, and only compass headings, really. We were supposed to be on some tracks, but they were really not visible. A bit tricky there, but at the end of the day, we had a clean run – no speeding penalties… I know a lot of people were plagued by that today. But no penalties for me, and a clean day, no get-offs or anything like that. Pretty happy with how today’s stage went. We’ll take the momentum into tomorrow, having to open the stage again.”

Brett Fox #34, Privateer in Motos: “It was a great day. I managed to finish with only one flat tire. The stage went through a lot of villages and farmland, which brought in several speed zones which could have added penalties. The off-road navigation was small today but tricky still. Overall, I cleared the stage without any time penalties. It's always fun finishing as the only adventure bike. Most people are pretty surprised to know that I went through the same stuff as the smaller bikes. The ADV bikes are capable, it just takes a bit more finesse.”

David Pearson #3, American Rally Original in Motos: “It was an excellent first day at the Sonora rally. Darren does an amazing job on roadbooks, and we had challenges and speed limits that made it very interesting. My training time at the COTAH rally and Baja has played off and I managed to maintain a fourth position. It is a long race, and we have four more days left and I'm looking forward to the adventure. Go ARO.”

 

TOP FIVE STAGE RESULTS

MOTO PRO
1. #1 Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna Factory Racing – 2:55:11
2. #21 Kevin DeJongh (USA), Privateer – 3:03:06
3. #35 Brendan Crow (USA), Privateer – 3:06:06
4. #7 Patrick Reyes Morrison (MEX), Diespro – 3:23:33
5. #13 Matthew Ransom (USA), Freedom Rally Racing – 3:27:23

MALLE MOTO
1. #18 Jordan Huibregtse (USA), Privateer – 3:07:12
2. #3 David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals – 3:15:50
3. #2 Matt Sutherland (AUS), Privateer – 3:17:46
4. #8 Kyle McCoy (USA), American Rally Originals – 3:21:18
5. #34 Brett Fox (USA), REV’IT! – 4:02:22

MOTO ENDURO
1. #27 Patrick De Chastonay (USA), Privateer – 3:26:18
2. #36 Anthony Bonello (CAN), REV’IT! – 3:37:03
3. #25 Willem Avenant (ZAF), Freedom Rally Racing – 3:39:42
4. #5 Morrison Hart (USA), American Rally Originals – 3:41:58
5. #17 Clayton Zimmerman (USA), Freedom Rally Racing – 3:42:25

UTV MODIFIED
1. #51 Sara Price (USA) and Sean Berriman (USA), Polaris Factory RZR – 3:44:21
2. #55 Daniel Gonzalez (MEX) and Jorge Hernandez (MEX), Privateer – 3:49:36
3. #52 Brock Harper (USA) and Steve Geist (USA), Privateer – 4:34:18

TOP FIVE GENERAL STANDING

MOTORCYCLE
1. #1 Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna Factory Racing – 2:55:11
2. #21 Kevin DeJongh (USA), Privateer – 3:03:06
3. #35 Brendan Crow (USA), Privateer – 3:06:06
4. #18 Jordan Huibregtse (USA), Privateer – 3:07:12
5. #3 David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals – 3:15:50

UTV
1. #51 Sara Price (USA) and Sean Berriman (USA), Polaris Factory RZR – 3:44:21
2. #55 Daniel Gonzalez (MEX) and Jorge Hernandez (MEX), Privateer – 3:49:36
3. #52 Brock Harper (USA) and Steve Geist (USA), Privateer – 4:34:18

ROAD TO DAKAR
1. #35 Brendan Crow (USA), Privateer
2. #3 David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals
3. #2 Matt Sutherlan (AUS), Privateer
4. #7 Patrick Reyes Morrison (MEX), Diespro
5. #13 Matthew Ransom (USA), Freedom Rally Racing

Source Sonora Rally
Photo WESTx1000

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Rebelle Rally 2022: Final Field Update -- Rebellation

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Rebelles spent yesterday relaxing in the Imperial Sand Dunes (Glamis) following the completion of the seventh edition of the Rebelle Rally. Guests were treated to massages, TOTAL Chaos hot laps, and competition demos before gathering together for Rebellation, an awards ceremony and gala in the desert presented by Jeep. 

Once again Team #129 4xEventures (Nena Barlow / Teralin Petereit) won the 4x4 Class in their Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, earning a custom trophy and $5,000 each towards next year’s Rebelle Rally as their prize. They also were the top-placing team in both the 4x4 Bone Stock and Electrified designations. Electrified is a special designation that was started in 2020 for EVs and PHEVs that are charged during the rally via Renewable Innovations. Bone Stock, as the name implies, requires vehicles to be exactly as delivered from the manufacturer, with the only allowance for factory-sized aftermarket tires and wheels.

Team #188 Dirt Hustle (Laura Wanlass / Maria Guitar) finished second in the 4x4 Class in their 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited and also won the Pirelli Scorpion Tire Challenge contingency program. This program awards the top three Pirelli-equipped finishers with donations toward the registered non-profit of their choice. Laura and Maria will win $1,000 toward Destiny Rescue and in addition, because they were a podium finisher, will win an extra $500 for them to use as desired. The other two Pirelli-equipped finishers were Team #187 Limestone Legends (Lily Macaruso / Alex Anderson) winning $500 to the charity of their choice followed by Team #186 Yellow Yetis (Rosanna Nuch / Nicole Johnson) taking third place with $250 to the charity of their choice.
For the first time in Rebelle history, a Toyota has graced the podium with Team #152 Toyota Way-Finders (Becky Brophy / Samantha Barber) in a 2022 Toyota Tundra. They were the 2021 Rookies of the Year and returned to solidify their place in the Rally. The only modifications the women did to their Tundra were to add a skid plate and swap out their wheels and tires. As a personalization, Toyota also stamped the 2022 Rebelle Rally and Toyota Way-Finders logos into the metal of the truck making the vehicle truly one-of-a-kind.
In the X-Cross™ Class, Team #200 Team Built Wild (Christine Benzie / Melissa Clark) finished first to also take home $5,000 each towards the 2023 Rebelle Rally for their efforts. The duo also took home the X-Cross™ Bone Stock award. This is the third year that the Bronco Sport has been at the top of the podium and continues to dominate the class. Team #216 Wild Grace (Sedona Blinson / Lyn Woodward) and Team #204 MtnSubie (Carey Lando / Angela Lux) battled it out to finish second and third respectively with only 38 points separating them in the final standings.

Rochelle Bovee and Melissa Vander Wilt of Team #141 Roaming Wolves were the only entries this year in the 4030 designation, which is specifically for vehicles that are at least 40 years old. Just like in 2020 and 2021, they competed once again in their late father’s 1969 Ford Bronco to honor his legacy.
Team Pawsativity – #144 (Katerina Gardner/Liza Tough) took home the International Cup for 2022, coming all the way from Canada to compete in the Rebelle Rally. Liza Tough has been a part of the winning International Cup team for the past three years. The team will have $2,500 donated to the charity of their choice, with Team Pawsativity choosing the Paws it Forward Dog Rescue Society this year.
Rookie of the Year went to the fourth place team who were contenders throughout the week for a podium finish. They came close but were just edged out by last year's ROTY. Team #187 Limestone Legends (Lily Macaruso / Alex Anderson) in their Rivian R1T won the title after an impressive showing including winning Stage 4. These team members were selected to compete by the company through a series of trials and training. Both are engineers within Rivian and have deep ties to the outdoor lifestyle, off-roading and camping.

Additional contingency competitions this evening were awarded to the following. The top-scoring team running MAXTRAX received $1,000, this went to Team #129 4xEventures of Nena Barlow and Teralin Petereit who rely on this essential piece of equipment for all their vehicle recovery. MAXTRAX also sponsored its own Team Spirit Award to the team that assisted the most stuck vehicles using MAXTRAX, and that award went to Team #159 Whips & Waypoints (Alex Gilman / Erica Stevens) for helping out numerous teams throughout the dunes and sticky situations. The rookie team running a 2020 Jeep Gladiator may have been new to the Rebelle but knew they needed to help other teams out with whatever obstacles came their way.

Scrubblade also offered up a contingency competition for all teams who were using Scrubblade wipers on their vehicle. X-Cross winning Team #200 Built Wild (Christine Benzie / Melissa Clark) lead this award by earning $1,000 to their non-profit, The Youth Garden Project in Moab. Rounding out the X-Cross Scrubblade contest was 2nd place Team #204 MtnSubie (Carey Lando / Angela Lux) with $500 to their charity and 3rd place to Team #203 Baby Bronco (Karisa Haydon / Trista Smith) with $250 to their charity. For the 4x4, Scrubblade's top winner was Team #188 Dirt Hustle (Laura Wanlass / Maria Guitar) with their $1,000 award going to their non-profit, Destiny Rescue. The remaining 4x4 Scrubblade contest winners were for 2nd place Team #152 Toyota Way-Finders (Becky Brophy / Samatha Barber) with $500 for their charity and 3rd place Team #154 CHAOS (Rene Vento / Rory Lewis) with $250 to their charity.

The final award of the evening was the Team Spirit Award, presented by Rebelle Impact. Voted on by the competitors and course staff, this year the prize went to Team #133 Stormtrooper (Suzi McBride / Heidi Dillard) who won the award after numerous stories of support and inspiration submitted by their fellow Rebelles. The Team Spirit Award winner receives $5,000 in their name to the charity of their choice, with Team #133 choosing Girls Who Code as the recipient.

After 2,320 grueling kilometers, Rebelle Founder Emily Miller left the competitors and guests with a few thoughts about their new life post-Rebelle. “The world is more distracted these days, relationships are more separated. You have to make an effort to be present,” said Miller. “Take what you’ve learned from the Rebelle, put the phone down and look up. Enjoy every sunrise and enjoy every sunset.”

Ready to compete? 2023 Registration is now open.

Source Rebelle Rally

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Sonora Rally 2022: Shaken, Not Stirred - Sonora Rally Prepares the Perfect Mix of Blood, Sweat and Tequila

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A lot has happened in a year and a half. Masks are no longer a prerequisite for entry. Political unrest continues to spread to new dots on the map. Beloved events are running at full capacity. And toilet paper has presumably taken a dive in the stock market. With all this change in action, it’s hard to believe we’re still not quite clear of the storm that settled at the cusp of the pandemic and the finale of the 2020 Sonora Rally… And yet, the full convention hall at the Araiza Hotel shows just how we all endure. These people here are evidence that passion, determination and courage prevail. And that by nature, rally racers face adversity with a clear intention to overcome. Distorted diplomacy, supply chain issues and the season finale of Stranger Things notwithstanding. It’s the way of the athlete, the competitor. The on-course warrior to carry on through each obstacle, battle the inner beasts and not totally comprehend the word “can’t.”

The Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, has too suffered its fair share of setbacks. Some of which led to the unavoidable rescheduling of the affair from Spring to Fall. A move affecting everyone involved. While the many World Rally Championship Rounds are conflicting this season, preventing a few regulars from attending, there’s no lack of fierce competition. Teams from all over the globe have made the trek south of the border in search of a challenge. Looking for a fight, with glory as their prize. For a lucky few, a trophy is just the icing on top. For others, it’s literally all or nothing. Sonora Rally vet and Rallye du Maroc champion, Skyler Howes, is ready to reclaim his Mexican throne. Beaten last edition by mere minutes from fellow factory racer, HRC’s Ricky Brabec, the Husqvarna teamster is back in Hermosillo not just to win but to have fun.

“I love racing in Sonora. This is my favorite race of the year. I’m actually really happy the team allowed me to come do this because it’s my favorite race.” Skyler Howes, #1 Husqvarna Factory Racing

For some, just reaching the finish of each special is a huge accomplishment. But for the others, a particular category was brought to life this year. Maybe the true masochists of off-road racing, the Malle Moto group that wants a little extra punishment to flavor their competitive experience. Only allowed spare tires, some basic personal necessities and only the tools, gear and kits they can fit in their Malle (French for trunk), these riders are their own mechanic, manager and muscle for the entire week. This minor alteration to the classifications was certainly inspired a bit by the ARO, American Rally Originals, race team, hell-bent on becoming the only Americans to ever complete the Dakar Rally in the “Original by Motul” – or Malle Moto – class. And the overall excitement from the community shows by the number of rookies and grassroots entries present at Sonora in 2022.

One particular entrant previously volunteered to gain some perspective of the event firsthand, observing the working parts closely and creating a game plan for his premiere. Now, aboard his KTM 500 EXC-F, Patrick De Chastonay #27 is all smiles as he rolls through Tech Inspection chasing his dream: to race in a rally. And he’s not the only person taking a leap at their goals. As a Road 2 Dakar stage, there are plenty of people coming from far and wide in hopes of winning that precious ticket to Dakar. The international reach is extensive with a presence from several nations: South Africa, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and, of course, Mexico and America. From motos to side-by-sides, even a Jeep and an Isuzu, this colorful cocktail is about to shake things up.

“I’m just really happy about the turnout this year. We have a great group of riders and an extensive pool of talented rally racers extending from all over the world. Everyone is glad to be back in Hermosillo, starting off one of the best routes we’ve put together yet. The event is only growing, with the help of an amazing staff, generous volunteers and a diverse group of dedicated racers, its presence is reaching further than ever.”Darren Skilton, Race Director

A loud applause echoed at the conclusion of SR’s introductory meeting. It drowned out the final inspiring words from the Race Director, welcoming the hopefuls to his beloved event and encouraging them to be mindful, yes, but more importantly, to find a new side of themselves on the course. A fresh take on familiar regions, this route is considered to be the best of its kind in beauty, complexity and difficulty. No rally raid is for the faint of heart, but this one is sure to test the will of lions. And only time will tell who comes out the other side as kittens and who will claw to the finish the King of this dusty jungle. If you ask Darren, they all deserve honor on the other side.

Stay tuned to the 2022 Sonora Rally presented by Method Race Wheels all week long, from October 17th – 22nd, to watch all the excitement south of the border. To learn more, visit: https://sonorarally.com/ Or, follow the fun on Instagram @sonorarally & @aventura.eventos.

KEY NOTES

Tuesday’s Special Stage One (SS1) will cross through agricultural fields, in sandy washes through saguaro spattered landscapes. From Hermosillo to Bahia Kino, the rally will move 267 kilometers – L1 28 - SS 224 - L2 15 – until they reach the Sea of Cortez. The initial evening under the stars will take place by the bay before the next long journey ahead.

There are a total of 43 competitors pulling up to the line tomorrow. Twelve motorcycles total – 16 of whom are participating in the Road to Dakar challenge. The Moto group breaking down into Pro, Enduro, Malle Moto and Adventure (which is also qualifying under Malle Moto). Among the Pros are Skyler Howes, ARO’s David Pearson #3, Kyle McCoy #8 and Mo Hart #9, and Freedom Rally Racing’s Nathan Rafferty #6. For the four-wheeled vehicles are simply UTV Modified and Car National 4, boasting Sara Price as the favorite in UTVs and two fresh faces driving the only true cars on-course in a Jeep Speed Grand Cherokee and an Isuzu VX.

This year’s Sonora Rally introduces two new partners: Polaris RZR and Motul. The former took an important role as the Bivouac Sponsor for the event. This affords organizers a freedom to give participants a unique experience back at camp. And to bring in quality staff and volunteers to help make it happen. In true Dakar fashion, the latter has come to Mexico in support of the new Malle Moto class, providing basic supplies to the entrants and a respectable cash prize ranging from $500 to Third, $750 to Second and $1,000 for First. Even more incentive for these riders to push to the bitter end.

Nearly three years since the rally has had a presence in the Sonoran State Capital, Hermosillo hosts the start once again, kicking off events at Araiza Hotel and Parque La Ruina. The municipality itself has origins which date back to the 1700s. Formerly named “Pitic” then eventually replaced by “Hermosillo” in 1828, the village-come-metro has established itself as a vivid, progressive and youthful town – currently considered one of the Top Five most livable cities in Mexico. With a population of over 900,000, mostly due to expanded industrialization, especially within the automotive industry (according to Wikipedia), Hermosillo is a fantastic, lively way to launch over 40 racers into Sonora’s quiet wastelands.

Sonora’s brightest are winning on the world rally circuit. Of course, we all remember that HRC’s Ricky Brabec historically won Dakar 2020 as its first American. But now fresh US blood is boiling overseas, with all new records being broken – by even more Sonora Rally veterans. Husqvarna Factory Rider, Skyler Howes #1, has just come home with the Rallye du Maroc title. His protegee’ Mason Klein won that same race in the Rally 2 division. And while he isn’t an SR alum, Seth Quintero became the youngest victor – competing in the UTV class – of the classic event in Moroccan. Congrats to all. The 20s are shaping up to be a great era for Americans in rally.

QUOTES:
Sara Price #51, Polaris Factory RZR: “We are here in Mexico at the Sonora Rally for my third year in a row! Beyond excited to have Sean Berriman in the navigator seat and one solid team behind us to take on this five-day rally.”
Patrick De Chastonay #27, Privateer in Motos: “This is my first time ever racing, and it’s been a dream of mine to race a rally. I’ve been working towards it for the past five years, when I first started riding dirt bikes, and here we are. Adventure riding and loving the experience of traveling and going places is what got me hooked on rally raid. Once I started reading roadbooks, it took me to some of the most beautiful remote places I’ve ever been to. And without rally, I would never have been to those places, so that’s what makes rally so special for me. And…makes it a dream that I want to continue to chase.”

Source: Sonora Rally
Photos: WESTx1000

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California 300 2022: Randy Romo Wins California 300 UTV World Championship Short Course Race

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Romo Motorsports driver Randy Romo kicked off his California 300 race weekend in style on Friday morning, officially winning the UTV World Championship Short Course Race that started a full day of racing on Friday. Romo completed six laps of the nine-mile short course in 1:06:47.223, beating Short Course Pro Turbo rival Ronnie Anderson by just seconds as both drivers prepared to do double duty on the day with the UTV desert race coming directly after.

Cole Fike completed the overall podium with the Production 1000 class victory, becoming the third and final driver to complete six laps on the course. Production 1000 runner-up Devin Smith and Turbo third place finisher John Bonanno completed the overall top five with five laps completed apiece.

“I’ll take that all day!” Romo said at the finish. “The track is super fun, the Martellis did a great job laying the course out. It was very challenging, but we just sent it. We kept live timing going with us and we knew it was within seconds every lap, and that last lap I heard (Anderson) got a flat, so I stepped it up even more because I wanted to get some time between us. Sure enough, he came on like a madman and made up a ton of time. So it was really close, but it was fun!”

“Congratulations to Randy Romo for taking the first major win of the weekend at the California 300,” said California 300 CEO Matt Martelli. “Randy and Ronnie Anderson had an epic battle all race long, and to see them fight that hard with the desert race right ahead of both of them really set the tone for some great racing over the next two days. We can’t wait to see them do battle again in today’s desert racing, and look forward to seeing if Randy can make it back-to-back wins on the day!”

Live coverage of the California 300 is available all weekend long at live.thecalifornia300.com. The site includes live timing and tracking, results from completed races, PCI Race Radios’ Weatherman feed, and much more.

With the first race of the weekend in the books, the inaugural California 300 continues all day today with the UTV and Limited class race through 7PM. Be sure to visit TheCalifornia300.com for a full schedule and information on how to spectate, and follow @thecalifornia300 on social media for live updates throughout the event.

 

Source Mint 400 / California 300

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Rebelle Rally 2022: Stage 6 Field Update:

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Before teams hit the dunes of Glamis, competitors faced a long transit-style day that crossed the Mojave Desert heading east toward the Colorado River and Arizona border. With valuable points at the end of the day in the Imperial Sand Dunes, teams could opt to skip some points based on how they managed their time throughout today’s stage. Teams had the chance to experience just how vast the valleys were in the heart of the Mojave, deceivingly vast. Once teams entered the dunes, they hunted for checkpoints in the northwest corner of the open area - just a glimpse of what they will see tomorrow in preparation for a long day ahead of sand.

We checked in with one of the rookie teams who have learned a lot since Tech Inspection back in Lake Tahoe. The rookies now have over 2,200 kilometers under their belt and really are now only rookies by name. In talking with Team #121 Dark Defender (Evelyn Chan / Jill Piovano) they’ve discovered a lot about the Rebelle and a lot about themselves in a short amount of time.

We learned quickly that we really need to adjust our expectations,” stated Jill Piovano. “We shouldn’t be competing above our ability; we should be competing to improve our ability. That’s what happened when we first started the Rally, we wanted to get blacks, we wanted to do things well but then I noticed we got in over our heads, we started getting penalties and losing points. We were missing easy points and green CPs so we sat down and said, here’s our philosophy, don’t compete above our skill set, compete to improve our skill set. Challenge ourselves and do a little bit more each day. Like going into the dunes where we practiced driving today but don’t compete above our current skill set.”

Entering the final day of the 2022 Rebelle Rally, competition is heating up and the top teams are starting to feel the pressure of only one more day to gather checkpoints. At the top of the leaderboard for 4x4 is Team #129 4xEventure (Nena Barlow / Teralin Petereit) who are competing in the Bone Stock destination and are also part of the Electrified program.

When it came to their week and heading into the Glamis dunes, Nena Barlow stated, “We’ve had a great week. It’s been fairly consistent. We had some ups and downs and made some mistakes but we all do, and it’s all about how you deal with it and come back from it that counts. We had a rough start this morning but now we’re home in Glamis! This is our home court. Anything can happen on Day Seven so we’re going to be smart, and drive smart. Play it cool and straight.”

Leading the X-Cross is Team #200 Built Wild (Christine Benzie / Melissa Clark). They have a lot of pressure to put the Ford Bronco Sport on top of the podium again but have welcomed the challenge as they move into the final day.

It’s been a remarkable week,” stated Clark. “I think what I pull away from the Rebelle Rally is that it’s critical that you have a very strong navigator. Driving is one aspect of it but having a really good navigator, knowing where to go and having good team communication has absolutely been critical. This is my 7th year, and in the course of that time I’ve had five different partners. Chris has been amazing; I’ve loved having her for her maturity and her thoughtfulness and her analytics has been great because I’m a little more random and cavalier. Coming into Stage 7 with the lead we have has been great because this is the opportunity to put the Bronco Sport back on the X-Cross podium for the win for the third year in a row. I felt some of that pressure at the beginning of the week and now I feel like it’s coming to fruition, and it’s been awesome.”

Chasing the lead competitors are two teams who definitely aren’t going to sit back and take the results without a fight. Currently, second place in the 4x4 class is Team #188 Dirt Hustle (Laura Wanlass / Maria Guitar) who are a mere 33 points behind Nena and Teralin. According to Wanlass, “It’s been fun this year. Plus, I didn’t time out of a green CP this year so that helps heading into Day seven. We’re just going to give it our all tomorrow, get as many points as we can, and hopefully it comes out ok. I feel good and we’ve worked really hard, and I feel like we’ve been pretty consistent.”

The dunes are a favorite location for Laura and knows the tricks to conquering dunes. “It’s all about being methodical, just distance and heading. You have to be very disciplined about staying on those, not rushing but making sure you get to a safe spot so you can continue your Rally. Consistency is important all week but most important in the dunes. This is my favorite part of the Rebelle, I love dune day. I love to drive sand dunes and come out here all the time with my husband and my family to drive.”

In second place for the X-Cross competition is Team #216 Wild Grace (Sedona Blinson / Lyn Woodward). Their bone stock Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition has everything an adventurer could need in order to conquer the terrain of the Rebelle. When asked about the competition format for 2022 and the importance of Glamis to a a Rebelle, Blinson had the following to say, “It’s been an incredible Rally with lots of changes that have made it more challenging for returning Rebelles. I’ve always, since my first Rebelle, separated the first six days of the Rally from Glamis, though. Glamis is a special way of driving and navigating so I try to go into it as fresh as possible. I’m excited for day seven.”

Tomorrow the teams will finally be heading into the Imperial Glamis Dunes were the winners of the 2022 contest will be decided.

Want to learn more about the women competing in the Rebelle Rally? Team bios are live now at www.rebellerally.com/2022-teams/

Source Rebelle Rally

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