sonora rally

Enjoy coverage from the 2022 Sonora Rally from our friends at WestX1000.

Begin Press Release: 


Off to the Races

Day One of the Sonora Rally Doesn’t Disappoint

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

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

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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 STANDINGS

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