Monday, May 27, 2024

Sonora Rally not returning to W2RC calendar in 2024

In April, the Sonora Rally welcomed the World Rally-Raid Championship to the Americas for the first time. It will also be the last time the rally hosted the series.

On Thursday, founder and director Darren Skilton announced the rally will return to being an independent event, once again focusing on domestic competitors. Although grateful for the international teams who took part, he wished to allow the North American racers to compete without being overshadowed by the W2RC. At the 2023 rally, such entries were classified in the National Auto and Moto categories while W2RC teams raced in FIA or FIM.

Despite the news, he did not rule out partnering with the championship again in the future.

“We created the Sonora Rally nine years ago to grow and foster the North American rally raid community,” Skilton said. “Since, we have watched them expand and some even attain the highest successes in the sport internationally. All-stars like Ricky (Brabec), Skyler (Howes), Casey (Currie), and Mason (Klein), all who have used this event as a serious training ground for the Dakar Rally and beyond. Creating this significant style of practice for North America has always been the goal of the Sonora Rally organisation, which is why we have decided to return the format to its original form and not participate in W2RC in 2024.

“We are beyond proud to have been the first ever North American W2RC event and forever grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Amaury Sport Organisation and the W2RC. We look forward to a future where we collaborate again, but for now, we will return to our roots of giving enthusiasts a thorough and substantial training ground to those with bigger dreams, along with an excellent adventure for all.”

Held over five stages in the deserts of Sonora, Mexico, the 2023 rally’s FIA T1 class was won by Nasser Al-Attiyah to take the W2RC points lead while Daniel Sanders claimed the overall bike victory. Other W2RC class winners included Mitch Guthrie in T3, Rokas Baciuška in T4, Romain Dumontier in Rally2, Massimo Camurri in Rally3, and Laisvydas Kancius in Quad.

Sara Price and Brendan Crow respectively won the National Car/UTV and Enduro classes for Americans not competing in the W2RC, and Matt Sutherland claimed National Malle Moto for solo riders. Price and Francisco Álvarez both clinched free admission to the 2024 Dakar Rally with their performances via the Road to Dakar programme, which includes every W2RC round but also had Sonora as an eligible race prior to 2023.

The 2023 race was also held a week before the NORRA Mexican 1000 in neighbouring Baja California. NORRA and Sonora officials organised the Ultimate Ironman Challenge for riders who did both races without crews, with Sutherland and Matthew Glade successfully completing the double and the former winning the bike overall for the second year in a row. Price and Mike Johnson, who had teams, also achieved the feat as Price won her class.

The 2024 W2RC calendar is expected to be released later in July. Besides the season-opening Dakar Rally on 5–19 January, the only other known race is an unannounced rally running through Portugal and Spain.