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Sonora Rally 2016

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
We originally had this place on Stage 2 for Cortez Rally, but had an issue and had to set it aside for another time. For Sonora Rally we're putting in the extra effort and money early so we can include it. The course goes right through there, and you can't see what's coming until the last second, so watch your roadbook and pick your line carefully "! ! !". Looking at these photos is all the pre-running you get.


Well-Known Member
Should I even try as a novice to rally but a lifetime of off roading, in a 2wd full size pre run truck?
I would always say try, but it is not easy. Last year I drove the course in a car with 27" tires and 4x4 to make sure the Subaru could make it. A lot of it was done in 2wd. It will depend the weight of the vehicle, the hp and tire size. With beadlocks and 6-8psi you could make it IMO. But make sure your trans runs cold in the sand. 4x4 is always better doing this type of event for the first time.

Dirty Harry

Well-Known Member
Wow Quinn's track shows why he is the champ!

I have gone to Dakar with Darren a few times and rally raid is so much fun. I feel that there is less emphasis on the vehicle in doing well, if you drive (and navigate!) smart you can do very well and have a lot of fun. I can't wait!

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
One of our goals for Sonora Rally is to take competitors across wide expanses of beautiful desert terrain that they have never seen before. The state of Sonora offers the opportunity to make a course that is 100% new to everyone, including the most traveled and seasoned off-road competitors. The down side is that this region is also all new to us as well, so we have a lot to learn in a short time!

One challenge that creates for us as organizers is to find all the cool and challenging places to go, figure out how to make a course that goes to those places, then get all the permissions to use that area for the rally. Google Earth is key in our approach (as well as other not-to-be-disclosed techniques), as they allow us to explore hundreds of kilometers of roads and terrain in a very short time. If we had to discover all the best places by driving there first, it could take many years just to see a tiny fraction of what's out there.

Finding great places to go is one thing. But stringing them together in a logical route that works for a rally is another. Quite often we have to change a portion of a route due to unexpected fences, permission issues, or other problems. When that happens we have to be quick on our feet to find a way around the problem area. Fences and other "on the ground" problems usually come up while we're riding or driving a planned route for the first time.

A typical scenario has two of us on bikes, way out in the middle of nowhere, many miles from any highway and maybe 75 miles from the nearest gas station. We discover the route we had planned has a fence blocking our way. We have limited gas and water. We are in a place we've never been. Most of the roads we use are not on any published maps. We haven't seen another human all day. And it's miserably hot in all our riding gear standing in the hot desert sun. What do we do? Without maps showing alternate roads to take, there can be few alternatives except to follow our path back, loosing a precious day of recon.

Here's an example from our latest recon trip. We didn't know any of these fences were there until we were out there riding. On Google Earth it looked like the road went right through there, but no, it's blocked, not even a gate! This kind of thing happened to us several times on this past trip.

So, to avoid serious delays I map the roads and trails across a wide region myself (hundreds of them, hand-drawn one twist and turn at a time in Google Earth). The image below shows my mapped roads (black), suspected fences (white), and planned route (green) in Google Earth. I load my homemade map into our GPS units, and print a paper copy for easy reference out on the trail. That way it's fairly quick and easy to see where other roads are that we might use to work our way around a blockage. The homemade mapping is also used for planning the route and roadbook in the first place (see ADV thread for more details).

What's shown above is a 50 km section of rally course in a stage that was planned to be about 350 km. Sonora Rally is 4 days, so multiply this amount of road and trail mapping by about 25 times to get the full extent of the map we're using. It's actually more than that, but Sonora Rally 2017 is a long time away!

In case you're thinking the green line above is part of our top secret course, think again. We rode part of it and had to trash this whole section due to "issues". All that work down the tubes! Fortunately we used our maps and other tools to quickly regroup and we've already ridden the replacement section.

I can't give enough thanks to Russ (LKN4DRT) for being such a hardcore trooper on these challenging trips. It may seem like all fun, but on this last trip we suffered through terrible heat and a lot of troubles that took a lot of fun out of it.

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
It may look like the moon or mars, but it's actually where our rally is, in Sonora, Mexico. And though we won't be racing between the massive craters, the course does pass right by this place, in the upper area of this image, outside the reserve. The biggest crater of El Pinacate reserve is a mile across. A great place to visit!

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
I don't want to give the wrong impression, that Sonora Rally is all dunes and exotic places. We do have plenty of regular everyday desert terrain where you can really open up the throttle...
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Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
Here's a short vid from Cortez Rally, day 1 at the Kino Cross optional gas stop. That motor sure sounds sweet as Mike Johnson sets out on a 5 mile leg of HP, 30 miles before the stage finish at the bivouac. The end of that leg is the dune peak just barely visible far in the distance. Then a couple more HP legs in the big dunes before making it to the roads along the canals then to the bivouac finish. This was a tough section which we routed the cars around. Full screen mode gives a much better experience for this vid.


Well-Known Member
I am in Phoenix and work 3 on, 4 off schedule, lots of odd time off if you guys need 4wd support for recon....or I am happy to go and just drive map myself...as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical society I am pretty sure I can get you the data in a way that works :)

Happy to help in any way from now to Rally Time !!

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
Only two complementary rooms left...

The next two entries get a complementary hotel room (double) at the host hotel the night before the first rally stage. So, if you think you're racing this event, and you like free stuff, get your entry in NOW!
Sonora Rally - Entry

Here's a peek at the entries so far:

- Mercedes Gelandewagen 230GE 1988
- Predator buggy
- GMC Canyon 2015
- Subaru Outback 1997
- Subaru Outback 2005
- Ford Bronco 1966
- Ford F150 1980
- Ford F150 1992
- Polaris Razor 2015
- Polaris 900 2013
- A bunch of bikes

The latest entry, Michael Coleman's F150:

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
We just got two more entries in the last two hours, so the last complementary room is now taken. Thanks everyone who entered early, and congrats on getting those complementary rooms. We already have more entries than last time, and we still have almost 5 months to go. Plus, I know of a bunch more people who said they will enter but have not yet done it. So, this is looking really good!


Well-Known Member
Even thought the 20 free rooms are gone, if anyone else enters by midnight tonight I will get the room for them! Just in case any of you where trying to enter before they were taken today. Thanks for your support guys!

Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
Volunteers Wanted !

Come join us for some fun in the desert, even if you don't race. Sonora Rally is looking for a few good men (and women) to help make this event spectacular!

Because this is a unique desert race with specific needs, we would like to know a little bit about you and your racing experiences and/or enthusiasm. Please fill in the form linked on our website as best you can, and we'll see if we can match you and your skills with a task we have that you would enjoy.

Given the event is still some time away, and our exact needs are still being worked out, it may take a while before we get back to you. Please rest assured that we'll look over what you submit and make a serious effort to find you something fun to do!

Some of the tasks we need done, skills we are looking for, and locations where we might need you during the rally are listed below. Clearly we don't expect you to match up with all of these, but matching several would be great!

► Spanish and English speaking
► Knowledge of local San Luis R.C. or Puerto Peñasco
► Medical / EMS trained people on-course or ready to zip out to course locations
► GPS and computer technical helpers
► Social Media PR experts
► Start & Finish time keeping and organizing
► Checkpoint and highway crossing control teams
► On-course gate open/close teams
► Course sweep in highly capable 4x4 truck
► Bivouac facilities setup

Race Registration is 3 April, 2016, and race days are 4-7 April, 2016. The ideal period we need help is all these days, April 3-7. An additional day before and after would be even better! If you can't do all those days, we'll try to work with whatever dates you can help.

Click for Volunteer Form

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Hog Wild

Well-Known Member
Darren and I just got back from another recon trip in Sonora. We found even more fresh new terrain for the competitors. This 250 mile stage has a lot of hard fast tracks and almost no dunes.

Looks like snow but tastes like salt. Use your compass to navigate across this roadless place:

We found some rocks! As far as rocks go, it doesn't get much worse than this for Sonora Rally 2016:

Don't be fooled, this stuff can be SLICK!

Darren says the fresh clams in Puerto Peñasco can't be beat!


Well-Known Member
I have ridden some of the salt flats between Penasco and El Gulfo. They are fun for wheelie practice when dry, but watch out when wet! Slick as ice and you can sink out in the middle of a lake bed and it is hell to get out. A group of us were going flat out across one once and we all started to bog down. We all held it wide open to get to the other side, but one bike was a little "farther out" and his bike sank and sent him over the bars. The extraction was quite difficult!

When I lived in AZ ten years ago, my good friend would put together a bi-annual ride from Penasco to El Golfo and back. We would make the round trip in a day. Some awesome country, but we didn't do to much exploring other than the main route, which was very desolate back then. I towed one bike back from the beach just south of El Golfo through the sand and then we rode straight down the rail road tracks to get through the edge of the dunes. I am sure it is different now there is a road through there.