Sonora Rally’s Penultimate Stage Was a Make-or-Break Moment for the Field & Only Broke a Few

At around 3 am Thursday morning, the bivouac started waking up to another beautiful morning by the beach. We’re not talking sunrises now because the first bikes off the line started their liaison for Stage Four before the first ray of sun touches the Sea of Cortez. Just one day remains, and the battle goes on hot as ever. Moving forward, many racers must consider not only how to climb the ranks but also how to hold onto whatever they’ve already achieved. The liaison would take the caravan to Caborca where they’d meet Timing & Scoring to wait for Betsy’s signature send-off. From there, they would ride towards the coast and enjoy a beautiful seaside challenge – like yesterday, but backwards. By comparison, today was a breeze… Yesterday was a monster, a hurricane, consequences of which were a clear burden to pilots today. And the Special was no small task! They went from a physically demanding obstacle course in SS3, with mechanical failures and fuel issues keeping everyone in the PCO on their toes to a hot but relatively smooth ride in the penultimate round. It was so tough the day before that four riders and a few cars didn’t show up to DSS, opting instead to fix their bikes for the final day or take X-rays…The brutality of the special resonated so much that it threw a shadow on this final loop. A reminder that the race isn’t over yet. Even so, the only truly punishing section of the route was in a sand “trap” which held up tens of racers for long enough that dehydration had a chance to set in. Some took it harder than others. Many were timed out for safety.

Stage Three, organizers had to close the course on a number of competitors. Almost 30% of the field didn’t reach the control point before the deadline and had to take the paved road back in order not to be caught by the nightfall especially as that special had completely worn out both the man and machine. The FIM and FIA classes had the advantage of earlier start, but the National classes were returning to the bivouac in the dark – or staying in the desert and waiting for assistance. There was a lot of work for the support crew, who picked up the final victim of the cruel special almost around midnight. With all that, the number of stage starters reduced dramatically overnight. Some crews were halted by the serious mechanical failures that they didn’t manage to fix their vehicles in the wee hours. And even out of those who started, not everyone actually reached DSS. Youngster Ryan Narino (#505) had knocked down a tree previously and suffered a mechanical on the liaison. He decided to take precautions and skip the day in order to analyze his bike and be back on tomorrow for the finale on Friday. The same situation occurred for Camelia Liparoti, who didn’t start today due to the engine failure, but will continue tomorrow.

“It was great. We had a little bit of dunes. The best part was these 18 kilometers in the sand along the beach today. We could open up and have a bit of fun. FIM guys have a bigger waypoint radius than [the Nationals], so sometimes they cut corners, and you have to make sure you don’t always follow their tracks. I circled in the dunes twice to find a waypoint. A couple of little tipovers in the sand, but everyone does that. It was fun! A bit difficult riding behind all the cars, though, as there were a lot of ruts. But now we are one step closer to the finish. Tomorrow there’s a big commute on the pavement and then a shorter special, good to save a little bit of energy for the party tomorrow night!” – Scott Thornton, #506, Team 150 Racing, National Enduro

Guerlain Chicherit, who lost his place in Provisional Overall yesterday, went all out and was leading the Stage for a while. He regained his seat on the podium which he took from the Argentinean Halpern and was on the hunt for the P2. But an electrical problem brought the car to a stop. The crew did everything possible to put it back on-course but had to call for assistance, bring the car back to the bivouac and continue the next day – alas with no hope for the podium. Over the 248 kilometers, Nasser Al-Attiyah (#201, Toyota Gazoo Racing) managed to put another stage win into his pocket, followed by yesterday’s winner Yazeed Al Rajhi (#202, Overdrive Racing). In their debut rally and only their fourth stage driving their Prodrive Hunter, Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea (#211, X Rally Motorsport) took a truly fantastic Third place only 3m 51 secs behind the reigning Rally Raid world champion, later supplemented by another 4 minutes of penalty. For the RallyGP racers who open the route, this penultimate Special was fast and not very technical with some tricky navigation. The roadbook caused some difficulties and at least one confusion on the route, which resulted in several leaders venturing off-route. The whole Honda team was affected – Adrien Van Beveren (#42), “Nacho” Cornejo (#11), and Pablo Quintanilla (#7) were among the riders concerned, accompanied by KTM’s Kevin Benavides (#47). They all rejoined the track later, but FIM had to spend some time thinking how to calculate the missed waypoints. Eventually, this part was neutralized, yet after the whole situation, Toby Price (#8, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came out victorious.

“It’s been a bit of a chaotic day. There was a note in the roadbook where the directions didn’t match the cap heading. I didn’t have any problems, but I know a few did. So, it’ll be a bit of a messy day results-wise. Still, my day has gone well, and I was pushing the whole way. I caught Ricky [Brabec] in the worst place possible – through all the fesh fesh and silt beds, so I couldn’t see anything! After I was able to pass him, I pushed on, just trying to do my best for the championship standings. One day to go, so I’ll keep things safe and try to stay on two wheels.” – Toby Price #8, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Rally GP

UTVs today had a lot of fun on the dunes, floating through these kilometers of sandy waves spraying clouds of khaki granules behind them. As the sun was dipping closer to the sea, their vessels returned to the bivouac one by one, fulfilled by another hard day of racing behind them. Today was a great opportunity for Zach Lumsden (#610, TrophyLite) to shine, he brought his Can-Am to the finish first, 4 minutes ahead of #605 Sara Price and almost 8 minutes ahead of #604 Daniel Gonzales. Sara Price still confidently holds the overall lead in UTV Pro and, the most alluring part, a grasp on the Road to Dakar challenge which would give its winner free entry to the hardest rally on the planet.

“Yesterday we were battling with a lot of overheating issues in the sand. We had to pull over quite a bit. I let my ego get to me a little bit, and it cost us some penalties as well. We received 18 minutes of penalties yesterday. But today was a lot better; we didn’t let the heat and my ego affect us. We were able to pull it off. We started with a bit of mistakes in the beginning, but overall ended up well. We have a big target on my back when coming into the race. Tomorrow, we plan to do the same thing we did today and give it our all.” – Zach Lumsden, #610, TrophyLite, UTV Pro

Traditionally, for bikes in the National category, the ride is the hardest. They start later – this time around noon under the scorching sun and when the sand is the softest, the terrain is torn to bits and the overall lack of experience in this sport can sometimes double their efforts. For example, understanding the value of CAP headings. Let’s say you have a long, slender dune section, and at the base on one end is a WayPoint which must be collected. But on the roadbook, if you look a few steps ahead, you see that the next WayPoint isn’t for another 20 kilometers. Veteran riders might avoid riding in the loose, punishing dunes, and find a new, easier path around them, using their CAP heading as a guide to stay on-course. Once they reach their destination, they can reset and carry on according to the notes again. So for pilots who haven’t learned those tricks, they will follow the roadbook to an agonizing T.

Several riders became dehydrated trying to push through the sand piles, but even with some penalties, everyone who started, reached the finish. All but Freedom Rally Team rider Etienne Gelinas (#531), who went down earlier in the special and had to be transported out with not a serious (but still…) fracture. But, really, each of the participants is having a battle of their own, whether it’s for the podium or to get to the finish line. Like our next protagonist who’s been on quite a weighty adventure already. Ben Howard is on his second of the five rallies planned on the way to Dakar, riding a Yamaha Tenere 700, no less! It’s a serious goal, which is maybe why he is the only ADV participant in this event. And he’s truly enjoying the journey. (He doesn’t even look tired.) It’s no surprise he runs ultra marathons and trains at the gym flipping a 90-kilo tractor tire to prepare for lifting his big boned Tenere. Speaking of marathons, Brendan Crow (#513) is running one of his own this week, snagging the win on this Peñasco loop and reclaiming his overall lead. And all the long-time Sonora Rally fans have their fingers, toes, eyes… crossed for the Malle Moto leader Matt Sunderland (#501), who – despite several strong efforts – has never finished this competition, always due to some unfortunate crash. Matt doesn’t have to hurry to preserve his Malle Moto class leadership with a several hours gap, but he’ll need fortitude to claim the Road to Dakar title as Francisco Alvarez (#526, Freedom Rally Racing) is nipping at his heels only 5 minutes behind.

“Yesterday, I had a lot of fun on the first 180km, until the dunes. Riding a big heavy bike there is quite a workout! Another rider was stuck in a hole, and while we were helping him out, they messaged us in the Rally Comp [that we timed out], and they sent us back to the bivouac around 6 o’clock in the evening. We made it there around 10 pm; it was a long day. Today, the track was pretty rough. We partially used yesterday’s track in the other direction, and the ruts were thigh-deep. My footpegs were dragging on both sides, and I had to pop out of the ruts and ride along parallel. In the ruts I just couldn’t move.” – Ben Howard #528, Malle Moto Adventure

It would be a rally-raid if there wasn’t pain until the very end. The nature of the beast is merciless, and it puts you through the wringer to squeeze out the very last drop – of whatever you might have left, be it your energy, your ego, your strength, or your heart. After that, all that’s left is focus. And if you can stay keen, lock your eyes locked on the goal, and fight until you can’t keep them open any longer… Then you might just reach the finish line.

For more info, make your way to 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: Watch Stage One of the third round of the W2RC here. Media inquiries can email [email protected] for more information or to be added to the press contact list for updates, news, and more.


Ø Nasser Al Attiyah, the reigning world champion, is on his way to regain control of the championship tomorrow in San Luis. He arrived in Hermosillo with a 16-point deficit to runner-up Sebastien Loeb, but he could well leave San Luis tomorrow with a significant advantage. If the Qatari crosses the finish line tomorrow as winner of the Sonora Rally, he will have between 132 and 137 points depending on his result in tomorrow’s stage. A lead of 31 to 36 points, which is a little more than the value of a W2RC victory, which is worth 30 points. Enough to see the next two rounds with serenity and have a sweet memory of Mexico!

Ø In the Special Stage Four, KTM’s Toby Price came on top, finishing with just 23 and 52 second lead over Tosha Schareina and Luciano Benavides. However, in the Overall standings he remains fourth, and its trio Sanders – Shareina – L. Benavides on the provisional podium. If you forget FIM rankings and only speak of the W2RC, Shareina is not participating. This leaves space on the podium for Price. He and Benavides are separated from the leader by 14.23 and 15.02 minutes respectively, which is too much to gain during such a short stage. Shareina will probably go all in to try to catch up with Sanders – there’s currently 5,42 minutes between the GasGas and Honda riders.

Ø Almost no intrigue is left for the last stage in the T4 class, Rocas Baciuska can enjoy the leisure stroll in the desert and enjoy the view. Almost two hours separate him from competitors Rebecca Busi and Shinsuke Umeda, who can still fight for the second and third place distribution. The same goes to the Rally 3 category, where nothing but a grave mistake could stop Massimo Camurri from retaining his lead.d. In the T3 the competition however is hot with only several minutes separating the four fastest crews, currently led by the #302 Mitch Guthrie. The same goes to Rally 2, where Romain Dumontier will have to protect his 4-minute lead from Jacob Argubright and Paolo Lucci.


Ø SS4, Puerto Peñasco to Puerto Peñasco; Liaison > 180 km & Special > 248 km | 38% Sand; 44% Soil; 5% Tarmac; 13% Dry Lakebed

Ø The final stage on Friday takes the races through the surrounding sands of the Altar Desert. The Special follows the 246-km liaison and is completed with another 16-km liaison, ending at el Bosque Assistance and Loading Park. Just 139 kilometers, but almost completely consisting of sand dunes, it will give the competitors a final chance to climb up the ranking.

Ø Vast Open Spaces: The flat lands of Sonora near Caborca are characterized by expansive open spaces that seem to stretch out endlessly. The land is relatively flat, with gently rolling hills and vast plains. This creates a sense of freedom and tranquility, allowing you to enjoy unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape. It’s known for its desert beauty. The region is part of the Sonoran Desert, known for its unique and captivating beauty. As you traverse the flat lands, you’ll encounter an array of desert flora, such as cacti, mesquite trees and desert shrubs. The landscape is painted with warm earth tones and occasional bursts of vibrant wildflowers during the springtime. The ranchland here is the heart of Sonora. The flat lands near Caborca have a long history of ranching. As you explore the area, you may come across working ranches where ranchers raise cattle and engage herding, roping, branding and other quintessential tasks.


Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Race co-founder and organizer: “Tomorrow, the race is heading back to where it all began. It’s a town that has supported the rally since the beginning, and the idea [was] doing a big event. We’re happy to have the opportunity to bring the W2RC there, and we have a lot of fans and friends there. We want to bring the first edition of the W2RC in Mexico to a close in a successful and safe manner.”

Marcos Baumgart #211, X Rally Team, T1: “A little dusty in there but we had good pace again as we learned the car more with the kilometers. We’re getting closer to the car’s limit but still we’re a little bit back of what it will ultimately do but we’re very happy with this stage and second place behind a world champion. We’re very happy.”

Adrien Van Beveren, Monster Energy Honda Team, RallyGP: “This was a difficult day because we arrived at Km 76 and the road book was confusing. I decided to stay calm, and, in these moments, this can make all the difference. I kept going but could not find the piste, so I came back, and I met other riders that were also lost. I came back to the point where I knew it was right and then Pablo and Nacho arrived. We kept looking, but the CAP was not correct. Excluding this issue, the day was not bad.”

Massimo Camurri #57, Freedom Rally Racing, Rally 2: “Today I was worried about the dunes. In my mind I said – you just must get through the dunes, and then it’s going to be okay. Before the stage I marked this place in the roadbook, and when I got there, I saw it was not so bad. I was going slow, cruising on the dunes without taking risks. But on day 3 I got stuck on the dune for maybe half an hour. I couldn’t get the bike out, but I managed to push the bike down the dune and then I tried again. I kept trying, my heart was pumping, but I did it.”


**These results are provisional and not final. Please refer to the event’s channels for final results. If you would like to view the Provisional Results for the W2RC, use the Sportity app with codes: FIAsonorarally2023 / FIMsonorarally2023


  1. #513 Brendan Crow (USA), Privateer – 3:47:26
  2. #526 Francisco Alvarez (COL), Freedom Rally Racing – 4:05:46
  3. #539 Ben Lauderdale (USA), Diespro Racing – 4:27:05
  4. #543 Mike Johnson (USA), Privateer – 4:33:24
  5. #509 Westin Carr (USA), High Desert Adventures/DUUST – 4:41:37


  1. #501 Matt Sutherland (AUS), Privateer – 3:59:33
  2. #510 Hector Guerrero (MEX), Modeci Racing – 6:41:31
  3. #542 Paul Mumford (USA), Privateer – 6:58:27
  4. #521 Benjamin Myers (USA), Privateer –7:17:00
  5. #520 Alexander Kachaev (RUS), Privateer – 7:17:00


  1. #528 Ben Howard (USA), Privateer – 5:51:59


  1. #610 Zach Lumsden (USA) and Shannon Moham (USA), TrophyLite – 4:11:27
  2. #605 Sara Price (USA) and Jeremy Gray (USA), Price Racing – 4:15:34
  3. #604 Daniel Gonzalez Reina (MEX) and Jorge Hernandez Calva (MEX), Baja-Son Motorsports, Polaris Mexico – 4:19:09
  4. #611 Craig Lumsden (USA) and Andrew Farmer (USA), TrophyLite – 4:25:56


  1. #606 Jorge Cano (MEX) and Abelardo Ruanova (MEX), Privateer – 4:25:32
  2. #607 Brock Harper (USA) and Steven Geist (USA), Privateer – 4:59:23
  3. #609 Camelia Liparoti (ITA) and Tony Albano (USA), Avid UTV/CAT Racing – 3:22:45
  4. #612 Carlos Castro (MEX) and Carlos Sachs (MEX), BBR – 5:07:54


  1. #602 Luis Perocarpi (USA) and Mark Wells (USA), Privateer – 32:09:00
  2. #603 Bruce Myrehn (USA) and Dan Frago (USA), Privateer – 35:37:00


**These results are provisional and not final. Please refer to the event’s channels for final results. If you would like to view the Provisional Results for the W2RC, use the Sportity app with codes: FIAsonorarally2023 / FIMsonorarally2023


  1. #513 Brendan Crow (USA), Privateer – 15:02:46
  2. #501 Matt Sutherland (AUS), Privateer – 16:17:30
  3. #526 Francisco Alvarez (COL), Freedom Rally Racing – 16:22:52
  4. #525 Ash Thixton (ZWE), Freedom Rally Racing – 17:42:06
  5. #543 Mike Johnson (USA), Privateer – 18:01:31


  1. #605 Sara Price (USA) and Jeremy Gray (USA), Price Racing – 15:03:33
  2. #606 Jorge Cano (MEX) and Abelardo Ruanova (MEX), Privateer – 16:11:53
  3. #611 Craig Lumsden (USA) and Andrew Farmer (USA), TrophyLite – 17:52:13
  4. #607 Brock Harper (USA) and Steven Geist (USA), Privateer – 19:32:16
  5. #612 Carlos Castro (MEX) and Carlos Sachs (MEX), BBR – 36:33:42


  1. #501 Matt Sutherland (AUS), Privateer – 16:17:30
  2. #526 Francisco Alvarez (COL), Freedom Rally Racing – 16:22:52
  3. #525 Ash Thixton (ZWE), Freedom Rally Racing – 17:42:06
  4. #532 Ronald Venter (ZAF), Freedom Rally Racing – 19:43:22
  5. #521 Benjamin Myers (USA), Privateer –22:53:03


  1. #605 Sara Price (USA) and Jeremy Gray (USA), Price Racing – 15:03:33
  2. #606 Jorge Cano (MEX) and Abelardo Ruanova (MEX), Privateer – 16:11:53
  3. #612 Carlos Castro (MEX) and Carlos Sachs (MEX), BBR – 36:33:42
  4. #604 Daniel Gonzalez Reina (MEX) and Jorge Hernandez Calva (MEX), Baja-Son Motorsports, Polaris Mexico – 41:54:23


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