Sonora Rally Set For March 21st-24th, 2017
Discounted Entry Period Open Now Through October 31st
Building on the success of the first two editions of the Sonora Rally, race organizers Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton have announced the 2017 Sonora Rally is set for March 21st-24th, 2017. Registration will take place on March 20th in the resort town of Puerto Penasco, Sonora, MX and the rally is set to get underway, with an all-new stage, on the morning of Tuesday, March 21st. The Sonora Rally is open to UTV’s, motorcycles and cars (2wd and 4wd).
A discounted entry period is currently underway and runs through Friday, October 31st.
Sonora Rally is a thinking man’s race. It’s the most unique off road event in North America today with the combination of never before raced trails, extraordinary dunes, navigation, and nightly bivouacs where the food and camaraderie may even rival the racing itself.
Sonora Rally was created by off-road racing veteran Darren Skilton and rally veteran Scott Whitney. Their vision is to present an off-road race unlike any other, introducing innovative elements that challenge the machine, and the competitor’s body, mind, and soul. They aim to provide a unique world-class rally that is both challenging for the best off-road competitors, as well as manageable by the less accomplished. Dakar vets will find familiarity in the rally format and terrain, while rally newcomers will get a strong taste of what Dakar is really like.
Skilton and Whitney have grown the rally organically with the help of their friends and relationships created over many years of traveling and racing through Mexico. “10 years ago, when I first saw the massive dunes in Sonora, I started dreaming of hosting a “Dakar-style” event here in North America,” says Skilton, an 9 time Dakar Rally veteran. “These dunes evoke the kind of passion and adventure that I experienced in Africa, racing the Dakar many years ago and I wanted to share a version of that with those who are ready for the challenge and who crave a new type of adventure in Mexico”.
Though a crossover between Desert Racing and Rally Raid is apparent, because of the way the terrain and rules are in Rally raid, meticulous driving beats risky driving, calculating people beat impulse-driven people, organized teams beat disorganized teams, fit people beat sloppy people. So it’s a sport that’s filled with strategy, nuance and subtle competition instead of man-with-more-money vs. man-with-less-money.
There is no GPS and no pre-running. A unique roadbook will be provided for each stage. The roadbook is the key tool for navigating the race course. All race vehicles are required to have an odometer with 1/10 or 1/100 kilometer precision, as well as a digital compass (GPS) that provides “true North” vehicle headings in numeric format (0 to 359 degrees).
This is a thinking man’s (woman’s) race and feels like a true adventure when you are out in the middle of nowhere with only your compass and road book. For those who have never experienced this type of racing, we offer a rally and navigation school during registration day where you can learn from and get guidance from experienced navigation experts and racers. Learning this new way of racing is part of the allure of the Sonora Rally.
As with most cross-country rallies, the actual race course is never published in any form and never known by the racers until they are on it in the race. Roadbooks for each stage are handed out the evening before that stage is to be raced, so there is little time to study it, and no opportunity to prerun it.
The only thing known about the route is its starting point in Puerto Penasco to finish in San Luis RIo.
A highly praised component of the Sonora Rally are the nightly bivouacs. These secluded over-night camps are set up complete with locally crafted food, beer, wine and spirits and serves as not just a dinner and breakfast gathering space but also a great focal point for the camaraderie that occurs during the rally. Stories shared of adventure and competition is part of the draw of this unique aspect of the rally.
Though you may see a lot of photos and discussion about the massive sand dunes from our 2016 rally, don’t think that’s all you’ll see in 2017. Dunes will still be a part of the event, however, we are expanding to even more all new terrain. Competitors will traverse everything from rocky mountains, washes, miles of roadless open deserts, the largest most remote sand dunes in the Americas and more.
If you’re familiar with Baja, Nevada, and similar traditional desert racing, kick those silty whooped-out habits because this is completely different! Nearly all of Sonora Rally is on roads and roadless terrain completely unknown to off-road racing. With unexplored trails, beach front runs, and the largest dunes in North America, racing the Sonora Rally gives you a totally new version of Mexico racing.
Media must be registered with Sonora Rally. Registered media outlets only will have exclusive access to the racecourse and bivouacs.
Because of the nature of this race, the secrecy of the course and the delicacy of the landscape, Sonora Rally limits spectators to our bivouacs and start / finish areas. However, if you are a true race fan and want to experience this rally first hand, the best way to do that is to actually come along for the ride as a volunteer.
The core group of volunteers include experienced off-road enthusiasts who are familiar with set up and break down of bivouacs, start / finish, course logistics, emergency procedures and medical training. This is a special way to experience the rally.