Of late, the motorsports world at large is increasingly hungry for good news. A cloud of uncertainly hangs like a fog over the immediate future.
Today’s piece of good news, however, comes from the beautiful landscape of the Mexican’s Sonora Desert. Event organizer Darren Skilton and his team have managed to move forward with their 2020 Yokohama Sonora Rally, a five day, Dakar-style event that has attracted an admirable contingent of motorcycles, UTVs and four-wheel vehicles to compete in the unique event.
Unlike the well-known trails of the Baja peninsula, Skilton’s event plunges participants squarely into the rather unfamiliar landscapes on the Sonoran Desert, located near the eastern shores of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. For most competitors, the rally’s overall format is also new as it mimics that of the Dakar Rally, with an emphasis on both navigation and speed. The route and key checkpoints are kept secret, and there is no GPS navigation or traditional desert-style pre-running.
Despite this week’s dramatic pandemic news, the Yokohama Sonora Rally still managed to gather a stout group of 66 participants, many of them some of desert racing’s top names. The motorcycle category features Ricky Brabec, last year’s Sonora Rally winner and the first American to win at the Dakar Rally back in January. 2018 Sonora Rally champion Skyler Howes (pictured, below) is also there, as well as SCORE Baja 1000 winner Colton Udall.
The UTV group is also a rich one, with many familiar names from more traditional desert racing trying their hand at a new adventure. That list includes the team of female phenom Sara Price, teamed with expert navigator Kellon Walch in their No. 78 Polaris RZR, truck racers Dave Sykes and Scott Steinberger in the No. 62 Can-Am Maverick X-3 (pictured, top), as well as entries for veterans Lee Banning, George LaMonte, Butch Jensen and PJ Jones.
The first two days are now in the books, with the rally route starting in the Sonora capital city of Hermosillo. With three more days of competition ahead and some likely rain in the forecast, successful getting to the finish line in San Luis Rio Colorado will certainly be a challenge.
Howes, aboard the No. 2 Husqvarna 450, is leading overall in the motorcycle category after Day 2, just 2m17s ahead of the No. 1 Honda CRF450 of Brabec. The latter suffered a time penalty in Day 1 but is making a strong if not unexpected comeback. Rounding out the top three is another Honda CRF 450, this one ridden by Udall, who is just over 12 minutes to the rear of Brabec.
The UTV battle is equally competitive. After two hard days the Mexican team of Luis Pelayo and co-pilot Abelardo Ruanova are leading in their No. 63 Can-Am Maverick. Less than two minutes back was Price’s No. 78, which started the rally at the back of the pack. A tick over three minutes behind was the Sykes/Steinberger entry.
RACER.com will be providing updates on the Yokohama Sonora Rally as it winds its way to Friday’s big finish. It is likely one of the only professional motorsports events happening around the world this week so enjoy.