Tuesday, April 23, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Francisco Alvarez secures 2024 Dakar Rally entry

Francisco Alvarez will cross off a bucket list item next January when he competes in the 2024 Dakar Rally. He earned his ticket to the race by winning the Road to Dakar at this week’s Sonora Rally.

Competing in the National Enduro class, Alvarez finished runner-up overall to Brendan Crow with a time of 17:56:38, good enough to beat Malle Moto winner Matt Sutherland by slightly under half an hour. Crow had won Sonora’s Road to Dakar in 2022, making him ineligible for a repeat even if he did not race Dakar the following year.

Alvarez won the final stage while fellow RtD competitor and Freedom Rally Racing team-mate Ashley Thixton claimed two. Thixton, one of six FRR Malle Moto riders and pursuing a Dakar berth on his own, finished in third and nearly two hours back after having to overcome seventy minutes of penalties in Stage #1 and a crash in the fourth leg.

“You have to be careful with what you dream of because it can come true,” wrote Alvarez on social media. “Over ten years ago I began to shape my dream of the Dakar and here I am after having run one of the best races of my life with a direct entrance to that dream! I won the Road to Dakar at the Sonora Rally, still having a hard time taking it in, but it’s real! Thank you very much to everyone who followed the race and to all who have always supported me! I finished in the best way possible, winning stage 5 and gaining direct entry to that Dakar dream!”

Sutherland, who is also running the following week’s Mexican 1000 as part of the Ultimate Ironman Challenge, was one of five Malle Moto riders in the Road to Dakar. Hector Guerrero was the second-best finisher in eighth overall; his time ranked fourth in the traditional Malle Moto results.

Patrick Reyes, Étienne Gélinas, and Matthew Ransom failed to finish as they respectively retired in the third, fourth, and fifth stages. Reyes and Ransom suffered mechanical failures, the latter even taking over his Off Piste Adventure team-mate Luke Stalker’s bike for the final two days only for the engine to expire at the end. Gélinas, whose blueprint for Dakar 2024 has also included racing the Baja 1000 last November and the previous Sonora Rally, broke his collarbone and ribs in a crash.

The Road to Dakar, which is available at all four World Rally-Raid Championship legs, is given to the best performing competitor in bikes and SSVs with no prior experience at Dakar. While Alvarez secured free admission on bikes, Sara Price did so by winning the National Car/UTV class.

Road to Dakar Moto results

Finish Number Rider Team Category Time Margin
1 526 Francisco Alvarez Freedom Rally Racing Enduro 17:56:38 Leader
2 501 Matt Sutherland Matt Sutherland Malle Moto 18:24:08 + 27:30
3 526 Ashley Thixton Freedom Rally Racing Enduro 19:46:59 + 1:50:21
4 532 Ronald Venter Freedom Rally Racing Enduro 21:39:54 + 3:43:16
5 529 Gregorio Martos Freedom Rally Racing Enduro 23:45:22 + 5:48:44
6 523 Jatin Jain Diespro Adventour Enduro 39:17:28 + 21:20:50
7 502 Billy Trapp M2 AV Consulting Enduro 50:04:34 + 32:07:56
8 510 Hector Guerrero Mocedi Racing Team Malle Moto 51:38:03 + 33:41:25
9 533 Dwain Barnard Freedom Rally Racing Enduro 55:36:48 + 37:40:10
10 521 Benjamin Myers Benjamin Myers Malle Moto 71:32:47 + 53:36:09
11 538 Miguel Donovan Geek Racing Enduro 80:42:00 + 62:45:22
12 514 Vladimir Malyarevich Vladimir Malyarevich Malle Moto 81:03:07 + 63:06:29
13 505 Ryan Nariño Ryan Nariño Enduro 104:58:31 + 87:01:53
14 520 Alexander Kachaev Alexander Kachaev Malle Moto 119:10:28 + 101:13:50
DNF 503 Matthew Ransom Off Piste Adventure Enduro DNF N/A
DNF 531 Étienne Gélinas Freedom Rally Racing Enduro DNF N/A
DNF 504 Patrick Reyes Patrick Reyes Enduro DNF N/A
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