Monday, March 4, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Tosha Schareina kicks off Honda debut with Stage 1 win

Tosha Schareina is a new face to the Honda camp, having switched over from KTM between the Dakar and Sonora Rallies. Despite Sonora being his first time racing with the Japanese brand, it did not take long for him to find success as he won the RallyGP class for Stage #1 on Monday.

While technically racing as a privateer unlike those at Monster Energy Honda Rally Team, he is receiving factory support from Honda Racing Corporation akin to Joan Barreda at the Dakar Rally. Schareina rode alongside Monster Honda team member Pablo Quintanilla in the early portion of the stage before taking the lead seventy-nine kilometres in.

Schareina ultimately eged out Daniel Sanders for the stage win by just six seconds. He is the second rider not competing for the World Rally-Raid Championship to win a RallyGP stage in 2023 after Barreda claimed Stage #4 at Dakar.

“What a start! My first stage victory in the world championship,” wrote Schareina. “I’m super happy and focus to open stage tomorrow. Thanks Honda team for the amazing work.”

Rally2’s Bradley Cox, who had an impressive Prologue when he beat the RallyGP class to be the fastest bike overall, lost signal on his ERTF GPS system after fifty-four kilometres. Forced to fifgure out his path by following the one put down by those in front, he finished sixth in class and eighteen minutes behind winner Romain Dumontier.

Neels Theric scored Kove Moto‘s first ever stage podium in third after Dumontier and Jacob Argubright.

The 170-km stage, which began and ended in Hermosillo, proved to be what Skyler Howes called “quite tricky” for many competitors as it was littered with rocks and shrubbery. Some like Howes and fellow RallyGP riders Sam Sunderland were not as fortunate in their navigation as they tried to go through the plants.

“At around kilometre 50, we made a navigation mistake that cost us all some time,” Howes explained. “It was just a big flat area with a lot of tracks to choose from and we just got on the wrong track, and so that keeps pushing you off course a little until you can correct it. I tried to compensate by riding through the bushes, but there was a lot of cactuses and greenery that slowed me up and so I got lost for a couple of minutes there.”

In the FIA categories, Toyota Hilux drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi swapped their Prologue finishing positions with the former winning. Sébastien Loeb joined them on the T1 podium after fellow Prodrive Hunter Guerlain Chicherit received a three-minute time penalty.

Another Hilux of Eugenio Amos rolled over after hitting a berm while cornering, though he and co-driver Paolo Ceci were unharmed.

T3 points leader Seth Quintero suffered a mechanical issue that knocked him to the bottom of the order, which Mattias Ekström and João Ferreira used to their advantage to take the top two spots. Ekström notched his second win in T3 by a minute.

Stage #1 winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 201 Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing 1:32:06
T3 308 Mattias Ekström South Racing Can-Am 1:40:15
T4 400 Rokas Baciuška Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 1:44:50
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 1:33:25
Rally2 17 Romain Dumontier HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 1:39:12
Rally3 57 Massimo Camurri Freedom Rally Racing 2:06:37
Quad 162 Laisvydas Kancius AG Dakar School 1:59:07
National Car 101 Erick Pucilek Erick Pucilek 2:46:29
National UTV 105 Sara Price SP Motorsports 2:49:56
National Enduro 13 Brendan Crow Brendan Crow 2:33:02
National Malle Moto 7 Matt Sutherland Matt Sutherland 2:42:54
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #1

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 201 Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing 1:32:06
T3 308 Mattias Ekström South Racing Can-Am 1:40:15
T4 400 Rokas Baciuška Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 1:44:50
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 2:17:57
Rally2 17 Romain Dumontier HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 2:27:28
Quad 162 Laisvydas Kancius AG Dakar School 2:54:27
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