Sonora Rally, Day 1: A taste of the dunes

Sonora Rally, Day 1: A taste of the dunes

Off Road

Sonora Rally, Day 1: A taste of the dunes


A taste of the dunes and so much more. Today’s course put everything to the test today – our navigation skills (or lack thereof), our Jeep [below], our patience, and maybe our smiles a time or two. To be honest, we rocked it. Our rookie status and limited range in our Jeep meant we had to be more creative with our path to the waypoints. Simply put, we took the long way around some damn big dunes.

A serious shout-out to the organizers of the rally for putting together a course that works for every off-road vehicle ability and for having the support to help out anyone in need. More than a few of us were in need.

Today’s liaison took us outside San Luis Rio Colorado for the start of the stage and quickly got us into the sea of dunes. Really. Big. Dunes. I mean… REALLY. BIG. DUNES.

Darren Skilton, co-founder of the Sonora Rally, says that he was a surprised by how the day played out. “The favorites really shot through in both the bike and car categories, even with the tricky end of the stage navigation. The dunes were more technical than I expected them to be but we got everyone to the bivouac in time for sunset and some great food.”

Race results for the Road to Dakar saw Skyler Howes taking first overall. In the four wheel category, Todd Jergensen [above] in the No.51 two-wheel-drive buggy, is leading at the end of day one.

Kellon Walch, UTV Class No.60, first American to win a stage at Dakar on a motorcycle, professional off-road racer/navigator, recapped his impression of the Sonora dunes, and he pretty much sums up our day as well.

“Today was actually pretty gnarly,” he said. “There were some good sections – there’s some soft dunes, some gnarly steep downhill, and some good up-stuff. The dunes are huge. You had to work your way around it. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow because they say it’s even worse.” [Kellon is modest, and finished third in the four-wheel category].