The Changing Tides
With Another Wave of Safety Concerns Hitting Sonora, It’s Time to Make a Move
In 2020, the world came to a screeching halt, right as the last race bike rolled under the Yokohama Sonora Rally archway. The celebrations were muted as we all struggled to reach our respective borders before the metaphorical gates slammed shut. Flash forward two years, and what most thought would be behind us is still doing some damage – if only it were to our calendars alone. But when you’ve had 24 months to learn fluidity, how to adapt better… Survive and conquer, as it might be, then every hurdle coming your way doesn’t seem quite as high. In fact, it’s these obstacles where we find our stride and, in the case of Sonora Rally’s new 2022 schedule, where the organizers found the upside.
Any rally lover in North America probably already heard the soft announcement on Social Media that the 8th Annual Yokohama Sonora Rally, presented by Method Race Wheels, will now take place October 17th – 22nd, 2022. The dramatic shift from March to October was a strategic reaction in order to secure the future of Sonora Rally for the years to come. As a matter of keeping the locals and participants of the event, alike, shielded from current unknowns, the necessary step put a dim situation into the light. For starters, more time means more training, preparation, saving – anything which an extended deadline can relieve. And it’s perhaps serendipitous that with the new dates, our good friends from the Dakar Rally have an opportunity to reclaim their rigs from the boat, refresh and ready them for the next, then one after and finally, in the Fall, the Sonora Rally.
“Although we are disappointed to have to move from our traditional spring dates, we felt it was the correct decision based on our desire to put on the type of high-quality event our racers have come to expect. Moving to October allows us to work to secure the rally for the years to come and maintain its position as North America’s premier Rally Raid” – Darren Skilton, Sonora Rally Race Director
Whether they attend in-person, or in spirit, the rally’s many friends who have found success at the top of the Factory food chain still give their support to an intimate competition with the sole intention of elevating and inspiring North Americans (Canadians, Americans and Mexicans together) to show the international rally raid circuit what we’re made of. If historic Dakar 2020 winner Ricky Brabec, Jack-of-all-trades Andrew Short or newly appointed Husky star Skyler Howes isn’t evidence enough, then let’s put the microscope on DKR 2022 Rookie class champ, Top Ten finisher and 20-year-old Mason Klein. He, like a couple others on this list, broke into rally in Sonora’s Altar Desert, and all the many great regions that followed. This year’s event will start in the historic town of Caborca, finishing in grand tradition at the US-Mex border in San Luis Rio Colorado. Caborca and the surrounding areas of Pitiquito, Puerto Lobos and Puerto Libertad provide diverse terrain and amazing vistas. The support of the Municipios of Caborca and Pitiquito have long been instrumental in the growth of the Sonora Rally, and once again welcomes all with open arms.
Buzzing from another momentous American win in the SSV class, the four-wheel class is likely to fill up fast. At 25, the youngest-ever Dakar victor, Austin “AJ” Jones has become an unwitting Pied Piper for growing pilots in the UTV space and beyond. Humble and down to earth, like so many of our local athletes, Jones hardly has a clue at the impact he will have in this scene, let alone if he wins the T4 World Championship for a second time (in a three-year career!). It’s no wonder Desert racing kings and queens, like the Matlocks, Pelayos, Eddys Prices and Curries, have made the leap into a new arena to hunt glory by way of roadbook. Gaining so much momentum, you could hardly stop them from plowing through their adversaries. There’s just so much to look forward to over the remaining nine months – with a bit more time to work up the excitement and, for some, the courage to take on the ROAD TO DAKAR challenge which offers riders in the Moto class chance at free entry to the 2023 Dakar Rally. But don’t dust off your boots too soon! The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has made a point to mention this subevent is not open to everyone. One important rule clarification for 2022: no previous factory riders will be eligible for the Road To Dakar prize. This includes factory riders from US desert racing, motocross and enduro racing. The Road To Dakar is meant to encourage amateur riders to follow their Dakar dream, a cause the Sonora Rally team can fully support.
Whether it’ll be the first time, the fifth time or the only time, what the organization is planning south of the border is an experience. A chance to discover your best self or face your worst. This is a competition which provides tough love for those seeking to sharpen their skills, a podium for those fighting to rise up and not one but a gallery full of memories for those trying to really live in an era so enveloped in the fear of death.