2019 Sonora Rally Special Stage 2 Recap
This is an excerpt from a press release from 2019 Yokohama Sonora Rally…
Photos Courtesy of Sonora Rally
(March 20, 2019) – Puerto Peñasco [Mexico] welcomed racers into a large parking lot alongside the beach in the midst of transformation into Bivouac number three.
Ricky Brabec #2 [came] in a solid 20 minutes before Skyler Howes #1, who had also built a wide gap between himself and the next rider.
Both riders appeared unfazed by the stage, even expressing enthusiasm about taking on the dunes. Brabec mentioned in passing that he prefers the pace in the sand and explained it can actually be easier to hit waypoints on the bullseye.
Howes, the 2018 Sonora Rally champion, applied all the skills and experience he’d picked up from racing the 2019 Dakar to what was once a personally dreaded section of the racecourse.
“I was definitely looking forward to the big dunes day today,” Skyler Howes said. “Last year I struggled on this stage but after my experience in Dakar I was excited to see how my navigation and skill improved. I felt great and had a lot of fun, the navigation was tricky in some spots, but I was able to nail it. These dunes are huge, but after Peru, my perspective changed, and I was definitely less intimidated by them which helped my overall speed.”
Every epic battle has casualties. The rally bid farewell to top contender after Garrett Poucher #4 who reportedly suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of Special Stage Two and was forced to leave the podium in the very capable hands of his teammate, Skyler Howes. And although the young rider has a clear shot to the steps, he feels sure his chances at a second winning title have slipped through his fingers due to unforeseen issues with fuel capacity.
“My biggest issue is coming from my fuel mileage,” Skyler Howes added. “And the last 30km of today’s special I had to ride at 30 percent in order to save my fuel and make it into the gas check, which hurt my time in a big way. So, after yesterday’s 25+ minute fuel delay, and today’s slow down, I’m well off the lead, which is frustrating because it would have been fun to test myself against Ricky. But, I’m headed into day three happy, healthy and having a great time.”
2019 Sonora Rally Special Stage 3 Recap
The journey from Puerto Peñasco to Puerto Libertad was a demanding one indeed, shedding substantial weight from the rankings. But a war still wages on among those left to fight these final two battles.
Challenging navigation seems to be a trend this year, as are the epic landscapes and formidable terrain – quite akin to what teams faced at the Dakar Rally last January. Though the racecourse broke free of the dunes for most of the event’s third Special Stage, what little of the deep sand was seen still caught many pilots off guard.
Unsurprisingly, we saw the same two faces at the front of the Pro Moto class: Ricky Brabec #2 and Skyler Howes #1. Howes was making good time and could have probably nabbed his first stage win of the race if not for his navigation tower rattling of his bike and snapping in two. Duct tape to the rescue, he was back on course in a flash, but unfortunately, not fast enough to catch up with Brabec. Charging through their wake, in third overall is Rally Comp’s very own Mike Johnson #33, while Pro Aaron Richardson #15 follows by nearly hour. In the Enduro class, Matt Sutherland #25 holds the lead above Kyle McCoy #31 and Vasile Scurtu #21.
Even if Richardson doesn’t take a place on the podium this year, he seems a shoo-in to win the Morocco Challenge – distances between the riders begin at a two-plus hour gap – which offers complimentary admittance to race to the Rallye du Maroc in October to the champion.
“We’ve gone through some tough days – the longest stages we’ve ever run in the dunes,” Darren Skilton, Yokohama Sonora Rally Race Director, said. “A super long-distance stage today [Wednesday], which everyone completed with good time. So, we’re kind of over the hump now. There are two short, really beautiful stages to come, with a couple tricks added in which could still wreak havoc on the final standings because of the navigation – especially on the last day. Pretty excited to be in Puerto Libertad again, it’s been a couple years. Great food, great time, great views.”
Results by Class as of SS3
Ricky Brabec #2
Skyler Howes #1
Mike Johnson #33
Aaron Richardson #15
Kevin Omo #18
Matt Sutherland #25
Kyle McCoy #31
Vasile Scurtu #21
Hari Iddamsetty #12
Pete Caldwell #26
Matthew Glade #17
Luke Bennett #24
Live timing can be found here: http://sonorarally.com/livetiming.html
For results, visit sonorarally.com