In just under one week, the 2019 Yokohama Sonora Rally and Road to Dakar event will start with a sold-out field of heavy-hitting competitors from Canada, USA, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe, Italy, and Holland. Returning in the car and UTV classes are Casey Currie, Erik Pucelik, Dave Sykes and Joe Bolton with a special welcome to Chris Blais pulling up to the starting line of his first rally since achieving a Third-Place finish at the 2007 Dakar. Other notable pilots who will be battling it out in the UTV category include PJ Jones, Jason Murray, and Lee Banning.
More than sixty cars and bikes will be challenging the Fifth Annual Sonora Rally, and this year, the Moto class is arguably the strongest group of rally racers ever assembled in North America. Ricky Brabec, Scott Bright, Garrett Poucher, Mark Samuels, and Justin Morgan will be neck and neck with Skyler Howes fighting to regain last year’s spot at the top of the podium.
STAGES AND CITIES
San Luis Río Colorado will once again host this year’s departure festivities. Sunday, March 17th will see tech inspection followed by a “Parc Ferme” at El Bosque, where locals will have the opportunity to mingle with the Sonora Rally teams. Stage One will get things going right away with some brand-new terrain testing the navigation of the crews. They will then get their first taste of the famed Altar dunes before finishing along the Sea of Cortez at Campo La Salina. In homage to the Dakar Rally’s original finish line at Lac Rose, the rally will bivouac next to the beautiful pink salt flats of La Salina.
Stage Two is all about dunes. The 240 km route will be the longest special stage of the event, racing from La Salina eventually arriving in the beach city of Puerto Peñasco, staging camp beside the beautiful Hotel Peñasco Del Sol. The greatest distance competitors will face is during Stage Three. 360 kilometers split into two sections, with a break in the municipality of Caborca, each stage has its own distinct personality. Recent rains have washed away some of the landscape, creating demanding navigation in the first half. The second half will be the last we see of those infamous waves of sand, mixing in high speed “pilotage” (as the French say!) for an intense crescendo at the midway point of the rally – with beachfront camping and amazing seafood waiting in Puerto Libertad.
Stage 4, Etapa de Los Seris, has a technical mountain pass to begin the day before arriving to the magical lands of the Seri Indian Tribe. Spectacular countryside combined with an opportunity to experience the amazing Sericulture and artisan crafts makes for a truly special stage. The day will come to a close in the small resort town of Bahia de Kino at a beachfront bivouac at the new Kino Magico facility.Leaving Bahia de Kino, Stage Five will travel into Hermosillo, the state capital of Sonora. Despite the short distance, racers must still be wary of tricky navigation which could upset the final standings. But the truth will be told at the finish line with the awards handed out at a ceremony taking place in Parque La Ruina – an eclectic venue for gathering – where local fans will be able to celebrate the rally’s arrival (for the first time) in Hermosillo.
ROAD TO DAKAR – UTV
Into its fourth year at Sonora Rally, the Road to Dakar prize will be awarded to a UTV team in 2019 for the first time. One of only five Road to Dakar events held across the globe, Sonora Rally is proud to have a strong record at Dakar, with past winners Mark Samuels and Skyler Howes both making their mark on “the World Stage” alongside Ricky Brabec and Andrew Short. For 2019, ASO recognized the quality of the UTV competition in North America and decided to give the prize of a free entry into the prestigious Dakar Rally 2020 to the winning UTV crew. The competition is set to be fierce with returning Sonora Rally Competitors Dave Sykes, George La Monte and Butch Jensen set to fight it out with new contenders to the crown like Jason Murray, PJ Jones, Christina Giampaoli and Javier Luis Pelayo.
RALLYE DU MAROC – MOTO New Partnerships Bringing the Rally World Together
Sonora Rally is very excited to introduce a new partnership with the famed RALLYE DU MAROC by providing a free Moto entry to their competition next October.
After attending the Rally this past year, at the invitation of David Castera, Sonora Rally Director Darren Skilton returned with a restored motivation to share this special event with the growing rally community in North America.
“Morocco was where my love of rally raid was born, which ultimately led to the creation of the Sonora Rally. My first international raid was the 1996 Atlas Rally and driving off the boat onto African soil for the first time was a very special racing memory. My hope is for Sonora Rally competitors to live the adventure that is RALLYE DU MAROC.” – Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Director
RALLYE DU MAROC and Sonora Rally both believe in returning to the origins of rally raid – offering adventure, navigation and a convivial atmosphere at the bivouac as their core values. These shared principles, combined with innovations like the Enduro Cup category, are aimed at helping newcomers discover rally and grow the sport on both sides of the world.
The prize will be awarded to the highest-ranking amateur rider who has not previously raced the RALLYE DU MAROC.
A big THANKS to Yokohama Tire and Method Race Wheels for supporting the organization’s vision in bringing rally-raid to North America. Thanks also go to returning partners RALLY COMP, Multitool-USA, ICO Racing and PCI Radios who have been great supporters of the rally since its inception. And at last, a special thanks to Sonora Turismo and the municipalities of San Luis, Peñasco, Caborca, Pitiquito, and Hermosillo.
THE BIVOUAC – Curated by AventuraTravel.com
Alta Cocina, by Aventura! will again curate the nightly bivouacs and with five striking locations where racers can expect an outstanding camping and dining experience. A favorite feature of our competitors, the nightly bivouac provides a central location for camaraderie, enjoying locally-sourced chef-driven dinners and sampling wine and craft microbrew.
This year rally competitors will again be treated to phenomenal food in San Luis Rio Colorado by our Sonora Rally family from La Faisana and Bohemia Food Van, who will be serving lunch and craft beer, available for purchase, during tech and contingency at El Bosque. La Ponderosa JH Steaks will host the dinner at La Salina, and for the third year in a row, the “meat specialist” Chef Martin Herrera Villalobos will treat everyone to roasted lamb and local Sonora sirloins.
In Puerto Libertad, Sonora seafood legend Gustavo Adolfo Cortez “Suzuqui” will be seaside cooking his specialty, locally caught Baqueta. On Bahia de Kino’s seafront, Marisco’s Bahia will host a surf and turf dinner. Their incredible sunset ocean view was a big hit last year and not to be missed. And last, but certainly not least, Chef Eloy Aluri will create the menu for the awards dinner with “elevated” traditional Sonoran food at Parque La Ruina, in Hermosillo.
FACEBOOK LIVE AT CONTINGENCY!
Sunday, March 17th, Sonora Rally will be broadcasting live coverage and interviews from contingency and registration.
Welcome to the Sonora Rally family Justin W. Coffey and Kyra Sacdalan of WEST X 1000 who will be covering the event with daily press releases and social media updates, so keep an eye out for them in your inboxes!