News

2021 Sonora Rally / Day 3 SS2: They Were Dune’d from Day One

By WESTx1000

Moving through the dunes is like melting into the perfect song. There’s a rhythm in the motion, a tempo, even a harmony of engines humming into the wind. Waves of sand imitate waves of sound. And, if allowed, they’ll consume anyone who dare sail across – washing away thoughts of anything but the next measure. Today was this sort of symphony. Special Stage Two was the necessary change in key which brought the Yokohama Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, back into tune. While an abbreviated route created a reasonable amount of tension after SS1, it gave a few unlikely characters a chance to shine. But rolling through Start Tuesday morning, those stars we usually look at to guide our eyes to the podium, grew brighter than ever.

As the first American rider to conquer Dakar, Ricky Brabec [#1] couldn’t stand to let up-and-coming rookie Mason Klein [#6] sit on his Sonora Rally throne for long. An impressive win on Monday, nonetheless, Klein held his own against the world’s Top off-road motorsport athletes, however their high rate of velocity, low rate of error and comprehension of the roadbooks really displayed their expertise in the field – Brabec most of all. Fueled by adrenaline, the good ol’ boy from Mira Loma warmed his 5th place seat beginning Stage Two just long enough for people to let their guard down, forget he’s behind, and coming for you. Both factory pros Andrew Short [#3] with Monster Energy Yamaha and Skyler Howes [#2] newly with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna commented on Ricky’s pace, never seeing him move that fast before. He soared past not only Klein, but HRC teammate Jose Cornejo [#4], Short and eventually Howes, who was leading the stage for a bit. They rode in a single file line, ascending and descending in unison, for the remaining leg of the racecourse.

“The day was good. After a ton of frustration from yesterday’s cancellation of the stage, anger was built up and resulted in a day of burning fuel. Started a little ways back so had some solid tracks to judge the navigation off of and it was possibly the only day I would have to make some time. That being said, we had a good push, only making a small mistake early on with a note in the roadbook not built properly (in my opinion). It was missing one small but very important feature. Once we shot through there, I was on the gas to the end. Hoping to get into some more technical dunes these next few days and with three days left anything can happen and a lot can change so fingers crossed we hit our navigation marks to the T these next days” – Ricky Brabec #1, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA

The song didn’t play out the same for every racer, although we had hoped today would be one for redemption. Correcting yesterday’s update, Jacob Aubright [#28], because he technically finished the stage prior to his engine troubles, had his DNF reneged by sunrise. He joined his colleagues just in front of JCR’s racer-turned-wrencher, turned rally rider Kendall Norman [#12]. Off the line at sixth, Aubright once again looked like he had a fighting chance for a Top finish, but as fate would have it, his Kawasaki couldn’t take the heat and failed him for another DNF – this time for good. Even Polaris RZR’s Casey Currie [#51] and Sara Price [#52] found the end of their respective ropes, both teams suffering mechanical issues. Currie’s was a blown turbo charger which he and co-pilot Sean Berriman managed to crawl to the main road before officially accepting a DNF. They’ll continue to drive through the desert this week in one of Currie’s two backup cars for some training. And Price and Kellon Walch were confronted again with another smattering of electronic errors since race Day One. Even their overnight trek to El Cajon, CA and back couldn’t save the RZR duo from dropping to the bottom of the ranks. A few more hiccups among the UTVs left the Matlocks and Max Eddy Jr. [#57] the last men (and woman) standing.

“Today was an awesome day! Started the day in P3 and finished P1, and now we are only 48 seconds out of the Overall. Had a great time battling with my buddy Max Eddy Jr. for the last 60 kilometers. Can’t wait for tomorrow.” – Wayne Matlock #55, POLARIS RZR

The Altar Desert is known for hosting the largest sand mountains in North America. And a bit more moxie for those not quite used to the looming presence of these giants. Not to mention the amount of camel grass threatening to upheave a machine at speed. Kristen Matlock and co-driver Terry Madden [#54] held their own most of the day, but an epic battle erupted between friends as Wayne Matlock, with partner Sam Hayes [#55], stood his ground against former Dakar team navigator Eddy Jr. circling each other. There was hardly room for Kristen to slip in, but tomorrow’s a new day. And trials in Special Stage Three will exit the dunes early, turning southwestward to the beach.

For up-to-date results, follow Yokohama Sonora Rally’s social media channels or click here.

KEY NOTES

Ø Although there were far less complications with the books, computers and miscellaneous today, the racers endured their fair share of obstacles. Once such a challenge came as a surprise when a sharp slice out of the sand took the ground out from under Aussie-Canadian Matt Sutherland [#7] while he was digesting his roadbook. The downhill tumble resulted in a DNF and a broken clavicle.

Ø Apparently two is the charm. Kawasaki Hare & Hound Rider Jacob Aubright [#28] has been a rollercoaster ride of fortune, and misfortune. After experiencing game-ending engine failure in SS1, the forced abbreviation of the stage in fact offered Aubright a second chance as he completed the new route to Kino Cross before enduring issues. He rebuilt his bike overnight and was back on track at 6th in the lineup in the morning. But once again, fate took hold and shut down the program – and his new engine.

Quotes:

Kristen Matlock #54, POLARIS RZR FACTORY: “This is my first Sonora Rally, and so far, I’m having a blast! Today (Stage 2) had a great flow to it with a combination of trails, dunes, and off-piste sections. My navigator, Terry Madden, did an awesome job of calling out notes and keeping me headed in the right direction all day. As of now we are in P3 by 6 mins 23 seconds and are looking forward to battling it out to the end.”

Max Eddy Jr. #57, UTV: [I’m] having a lot of fun doing the racing part of the rally, but not so much prepping the car every night. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Skyler Howes #2, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA: “Today was actually a really good day, and what I was hoping for yesterday. There were a lot of dunes, a lot of camel grass, and pretty good navigation in there too. I had my GPS equipment fail halfway through the stage, so I caught Mason [Klein] and ended up leading out the majority of the stage when my equipment failed. I didn’t have a compass; I have a back-up but it’s really small, hard to see, so I lost some time there. Towards the end of the special, Ricky and Andrew caught up to me and had a really high pace going. I hopped behind them in a single-file line and rode into the finish line. It was really fun, but there was a lot of camel grass, so it was a bit sketchy. All in all a really great day.”

Casey Currie #51, MONSTER ENERGY POLARIS RZR: “Stage Two complete. We had some issues with our Turbo today. The Turbo water pump was mounted in a way on the aftermarket chassis that, on hot days, it can overheat and shut off – killing the Turbo. This happened 3/4 of the way through the special. Before all of that, the car was ripping. The goal with this event was to take it day by day and learn as much as we can. It’s been a great first test with my Polaris RZR. We will go back and make many changes. At least Sean Berriman has been killing it with notes making the experience super fun.”

TOP TEN STAGE RESULTS

MOTORCYCLE
1. #1 Ricky Brabec, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA
2. #3 Andrew Short, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA
3. #2 Skyler Howes, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA
4. #4 Jose Ignacio Cornejo, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA
5. #12 Kendall Norman, JCR HONDA
6. #6 Mason Klein, Pro
7. #10 Justin Morgan, SLR Honda & San Diego Powersport
8. #5 Wes VanNieuwenhuise, ROTTWEILER PERFORMANCE
9. #20 Ray Dal Soglio, Pro
10. #9 Scott Bright, Pro

QUAD
1. #35 Mauricio Segura Gongora

UTV
1. #55 Wayne Matlock and Sam Hayes, Polaris RZR
2. #57 Max Eddy, Pro
3. #54 Kristen Matlock and Terry Madden, Polaris RZR
4. #59 Jim Price and Sienna Price, Pro
5. #52 Sara Price and Kellon Walch, Polaris RZR
6. #53 Dave Sykes and George LaMonte, Pro
7. #51 Casey Currie and Sean Berriman, Polaris RZR
8. #61 Bill Conger and Amy Feistel, Pro

TOP FIVE GENERAL STANDINGS

MOTORCYCLE
1. #1 Ricky Brabec, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA
2. #3 Andrew Short, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA
3. #2 Skyler Howes, ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA
4. #4 Jose Ignacio Cornejo, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA
5. #6 Mason Klein, Pro

QUAD
1. #35 Mauricio Segura Gongora

UTV
1. #57 Max Eddy, Pro
2. #55 Wayne Matlock and Sam Hayes, Polaris RZR
3. #54 Kristen Matlock and Terry Madden, Polaris RZR
4. #51 Casey Currie and Sean Berriman, Polaris RZR
5. #53 Dave Sykes and George LaMonte, Pro

ROAD TO DAKAR
1. #6 Mason Klein, Pro
2. #12 Kendall Norman, JCR Honda
3. #10 Justin Morgan, SLR Honda & San Diego Powersport
4. #20 Ray Dal Soglio, Pro
5. #29 Jordan Hulibregtse, Pro