After Stage Two the Sonora Rally has reached its half way point, and Dakar veteran Ricky Brabec has extended his lead on his Honda CRF450. “When I won a stage at Dakar earlier this year, I had no experience opening up a course. The Sonora Rally has made me a lot more comfortable being in the front of the pack and navigating off the road book with no tracks to follow.” Unlike traditional point-to-point desert racing, the four day Sonora Rally has timed “special stages” each day that cover new terrain that is navigated only using a road book, with no GPS permitted.
For the second day, Mark Samuels finished second to Brabec. Samuels is leading Andrew Short in the Dakar Challenge class, where the winner earns a free entry into the prestigious Dakar Rally. “I love to trail ride,” explained Short, who recently retired after a successful career racing Supercross. “Johnny Campbell told me that I had to come race this event and it has been like the ultimate trail ride!”
In the UTV category, Jake Povey and Pete Mortensen bested last year’s winner Dave Sykes, who has PCI’s Scott Steinberger providing navigation. The two teams actually bested all of the four-wheel entries in Stage Two, which means that Mortensen’s navigation will be put to the test in Stage Three when he and Povey open the route.
Stage Two was a brutal one for the car category, where Todd and Kyle Jergensen rolled their truck into a rocky ravine after battling with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley in their Predator all day. The rollover happened just a few kilometers from the end of the special stage, but cost the Jergensens hours of time. While they were able to recover the truck, and will continue on, the team of Perry Coan and Skyler Gambrell were not as fortunate in their Jeepspeed Wrangler. A drop off a steep dune face broke the front axle housing in the Jeep, ending their race.
The Sonora Rally now moves into the Altar Dunes, the largest dune system in North America. The miles of off piste (roadless) terrain in the Altar Dunes is what drew Dakar veterans Darren Skilton and Scott Whitney to this area in their creation of the Sonora Rally. “The dunes will be the true test of man and machine,” Skilton promised. “There is still plenty of racing remaining and the navigation on the final stages is certain to shake up the standings.”