Record Number of Competitors Survive Scrutineering & Gear Up for a Historic Sonora Rally
Sonora Rally is a grand spectacle of elite rally-raid athletes and passionate privateers. April 22nd, the event opened its gates for Scrutineering and Registration of 115 first class competitors who will take on the 9th edition of this cherished rally in the official third round of the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). Taking place in Hermosillo, the capital city of the state of Sonora, known for its scenic arid terrain, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, this is the first time that elite rally-raid teams of this caliber have come to North America to race in such a sport. And little do they know, they will be mingling with Nationals with a distinction of their own. North America is the breeding ground for such stars as Ricky Brabec, Skyler Howes, AJ Jones, Casey Currie and rising stars like Seth Quintero, Mason Klein and Mitch Guthrie Jr. – to name a few. And that’s not to mention our Malle Moto soldiers in the field.
“This is my favorite race of the year, whether it’s a [W2RC] round or not. When I competed in my first rally, this is where I had my start in the sport, and I promised myself that I would make it back every year regardless of what’s happening because this is one of my favorite events. That’s the one thing about becoming a World Rally round, I’m really hoping that the heart and the style of the rally can stay true. My favorite part is how close everyone is. You come into the bivouac, and you would normally have local catering – a grandma cooking the tortillas – which is really cool to see because we have so much of the local culture involved. At a lot of rallies, we might go to some random bivouac in the middle of the desert, but here, we have so many of the locals down on the beach, riding through some of the ranches and just traveling through the small towns… It’s one of my favorite rallies because of that. Every event, you can see so much of the country, but in Sonora, you’re able to see the people and traditions in these areas. Understandably, now, at this size, you need to go to different bivouacs than usual, but I’m still really excited to be able to share this with the rest of the world because it has a special place in my heart.” – Skyler Howes #10, Husqvarna Factory Racing
The excitement is building as pilots prepare to tackle the challenge of riding or driving through the desert and the infamous dunes of this region. Which was likely a small factor in attracting some of the top factory riders, including Sebastien Loeb, Nassir Al Attiyah, and many more. For the first time, the competition will provide an opportunity to showcase the talent of North America to fans all over the globe. Local fan favorites like Sara Price, Daniel Gonzalez, Matthew Glade, Mike Johnson, Matthew Ransom, and Patrick Reyes will also compete, making the 2023 Sonora Rally a grand spectacle with plenty of battles to keep us on the edge of our seats.
In scorching 38-degree Celsius heat, competitors lined up to file their names with the organization. Despite the tough conditions, they remained undeterred and excited to take on the Sonora Rally, be it the first time or the ninth. While they will be on the lookout for snakes, scorpions, and jumping cacti – adding an extra element of danger – to the race, it’s the giant awe-inspiring saguaro cacti that will truly draw their eyes away from the roadbook.
“I hope to have a good race. It will be a very long rally. Not easy, difficult, maybe we’ll see a lot of trees. But I think we will enjoy the landscape. And we will do our best to win the round.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah #201, Toyota Gazoo Racing
The Sonora Rally promises to be an unforgettable experience for all involved. The Prologue kicks off on Sunday, April 23rd, at Autodromo Cerro Colorado after a ceremonial start in Parque La Ruina. From there, competitors will race through the desert and infamous dunes of this region, providing an opportunity to showcase their skills and compete against the best in the world. The Sonora Rally is more than just a race; it is a celebration of competitors from every corner of the earth, coming together to compete in one of the toughest sports on the planet. The event is organized with the support of local government and sponsors, which demonstrates the commitment to promoting tourism in the region. The Sonora Rally is an event not to be missed and will leave a lasting impression on all those involved.
For more info, make your way to https://sonorarally.com/. And to follow along with the race, stay tuned @SonoraRally on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, plus, download the Sportity App for schedule, news updates, press releases, results, and more. Event code: SonoraRally2023
For news from the World Rally-Raid Championship, visit their website: https://www.worldrallyraidchampionship.com/en/. Media inquiries can email [email protected] for more information or to be added to the press contact list for updates, news, and more.
Ø Total of 34 FIM riders are pulling up to the line tomorrow with the Prologue. Four of the 15 RallyGP already have already fallen in hard for sweet Sonora. Lover Numero Uno is Ricky Brabec, four victories (2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021), is the race’s record holder. Fan favorite Skyler Howes, 2018 and 2022 winner, is the title holder this round, but also a runner-up to Ricky in the past with three Second Places from 2019 to 2021. In the last six years, the Americans were the powerhouses just beyond their border. Even “Nacho” Cornejo made a name for himself in 2021 with a podium, and for his second go at it, Mason Klein was 5th in 2021. No doubt, the seven Rally2 and three Rally3 will be eating their dust… Sorry folks!
Ø There are 27 FIA crews on the cusp of discovering Sonora for the first time. Nine T1+ class vehicles – the new 4×4 generation born two Dakars ago with big wheels and tons of suspension travel (perhaps to match the local beloved Trophy Trucks) – are led by Sebastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) and Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing). The ten T3s, of the UTV pro categories, are ready for rumble in the cacti jungle. It’s a special race for Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA) who is going back to his family roots in Sonora. The kid is leading the ranking behind his two teammates from the US and will ride north with the soul of Sonora to support him. In T4, similar to the standard UTV class, three vehicles will have a hell of a fight. The former Lithuanian champ Rokas Baciuska in his Can-Am factory and the vet Japanese native, Shinsuke Umeda aboard his Polaris RZR 2 liter, are the men to follow.
Ø Hermosillo is the capital city of the state of Sonora in Mexico and has a population of over 900,000 people. The city is known for its hot, arid climate, with summer temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Hermosillo is home to several nature reserves, including the Sierra de la Mariquita and the Cerro del Cubil, which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and a chance to see wildlife like desert bighorn sheep. The region is also known for its rich cultural heritage, with several museums and historical sites, such as the Museo de Sonora and the Cathedral of Hermosillo.
Hermosillo has a strong culinary tradition, with dishes like carne asada, burritos, and machaca (dried and shredded beef) being popular among locals and visitors alike. The city has produced several famous musicians, including singer-songwriter Lila Downs and composer Arturo Márquez. Hermosillo is a hub for the automotive industry in Mexico, with several major car manufacturers having factories in the region. The city is home to the Universidad de Sonora, one of the largest and most prestigious universities in Mexico. Hermosillo is also known for its annual Festival Internacional del Pitic, a cultural festival that celebrates the arts, music, and traditions of the region. Finally, the city is a popular starting point for exploring the surrounding natural beauty, including the beaches of the Gulf of California and the stunning landscapes of the Sonoran Desert.
Ø The landscape surrounding Hermosillo is characterized by the Sonoran Desert, which is one of the most biodiverse deserts in the world. The terrain is rugged and challenging, with steep mountains, deep canyons, and vast stretches of sand dunes. It’s known for its unique flora and fauna, including towering saguaro cacti, Joshua trees, barrel cacti, and ocotillo plants. The desert is also home to a variety of animal species, such as coyotes, javelinas, desert bighorn sheep, and rattlesnakes. In addition to the desert, there are several mountain ranges within a 50-mile radius of Hermosillo, including the Sierra de la Mariquita and the Cerro del Cubil. These mountains offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and provide opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. The region is also home to several rivers and streams, including the Rio Sonora and the Rio San Miguel, which provide important habitats for fish and other aquatic species. Overall, the topography encircling Hermosillo is rugged and varied, offering a unique and exciting landscape for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Ø Parque La Ruina, located in the historic center of Hermosillo, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The park gets its name from the ruins of an old prison that once stood on the site. Today, the ruins serve as a backdrop for concerts, cultural events, and other public gatherings. Parque La Ruina is home to several pieces of public art, including murals, sculptures, and installations, many of which celebrate the history and culture of the region. The park is also a popular spot for outdoor exercise and recreation, featuring several walking and running trails, as well as a large grassy area for picnics and sports. In addition to its cultural and recreational offerings, Parque La Ruina is home to several businesses, including a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a bookstore. Visitors can grab a bite to eat, enjoy a cup of coffee, or browse a selection of books and magazines. Overall, Parque La Ruina is known for its lively atmosphere, with live music, street performers, and other entertainment often taking place on weekends and holidays. The park’s central location and historic charm make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting Hermosillo.
Kevin Benavidas #47, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Motos: “I’m so happy to be here at the Sonora Rally…Today, we did the scrutineering and registration, and everything is okay, so now it’s time to prepare the bike for tomorrow. We’ll start with the Prologue, and then, we’ll see what happens during the week.”
Alexander Kachaev #520, Privateer in Malle Moto: “This is an exciting event, and this is the first time when the World Rally will be taking place in Mexico thanks to Darren Skilton who has organized this event with the FIM and the FIA. That’s an amazing event which has been the rally raid for North American riders – US, Canada, Mexico – plus it’s welcomed racers from South America and Europe. This is the next level. We have a lot of top riders like Skyler Howes, Ricky Brabec, Toby Price, Sebastien Loeb and the rest of the rockstar lineup. This is the first time for me, while last year I participated as a volunteer on the Orga team working at this event from the other side of the fence. I’m super excited to take part as a rider here in the Malle Moto class!”
Camelia Liparoti #609, Avid Racing Yamaha in National UTVs: “This is the first time that I have come to Mexico on a vacation (and a bit of racing), thanks to Avid UTV and to George [Lamonte] my Team Manager. I’m testing an American operation in a Yamaha YXZ 1000…George prepared the vehicle in California, so it’s interesting for me to discover what is done abroad – outside of Europe. The route seems super exciting. I’ve had a chance to tour around these last days since I arrived, and I’ve seen a lot of cactus fields. So I was thinking, first of all, I don’t want to go through these because of the punctures; or imagine if you have a problem or you roll in the middle of the cactus fields! I think it won’t be a good idea, but it’ll be interesting to discover all this new landscape. I’m super happy. I have an amazing team. I have a new co-driver, Tony Albano, who is originally from Italy, plus a mechanic from the USA and one from Mexico. It’s a new team, a new rally, a new experience…I am super excited!”