Picking back up on the action at Stage 2 of the 2023 FIA/FIM World Rally Raid Championship’s Sonora Rally in Mexico, Monster Energy’s Tosh Schareina (Honda HGA) and Ricky Brabec (Honda HRC) both made the stage podium on Tuesday in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively, piloting and navigating their CRF450 Rally bikes through a treacherous 162 km Special + 339 km Liaison from Hermosillo to Penasco.
Monster Energy-backed Ross Branch (Hero Motorsports) and Pablo Quintanilla (Honda HRC) also ran well, logging 5th and 6th place Stage 2 Sonora Rally finishes on Tuesday.
World Rally Raid Championship, Sonora Rally
Stage 2: Hermosillo to Penasco Overall
2nd - Schareina (Monster/Honda/HGA) 2nd - Schareina (-/minus :21)
3rd - Brabec (Monster/Honda/HRC) 3rd - Brabec (-/minus 4:16)
5th - Branch (Monster/Hero) 4th - Quintanilla/Honda HRC (-/minus 4:56)
For Brabec, a native Californian and lone American on the Monster Energy/Honda HRC team who’s quite used to the terrain northern Mexico has to offer, Tuesday’s podium finish was not only an improvement on Monday’s State 1 effort (7th), but it also bumped him up to 3rd place in the overall title chase (behind Schareina in 2nd and leader Daniel Sanders/Gas Gas).
“The day started out really fast, not really the safest, but at the end of the day it was really about reading the terrain,” said Brabec. “Second half of the day, in the Special, there was a lot more navigation, lot more turning. Just a little bit more fun overall. We made it back to the bivouac on Day 2, now we’re going to prepare the bikes for the next three days and we’ll see what’s in store for us.”
About a minute-and-a-half up on Brabec in Stage 2 racing was Schareina. The Spaniard, who had the overall lead heading into Stage 2 (based on his Stage 1 victory), was 1:15 back of Stage 2 winner Sanders, though that didn’t diminish Schareina’s positive outlook on the race in the least.
“I’m really happy the way things went today. I’ve been riding well all week long,” said Schareina. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and Stage 3.”
In 6th place on the day, following up his 2nd place podium run on Monday was Quintanilla. The Chilean is currently in 4th place overall in the standings after two stages, just 54 seconds back of Brabec. Not quite as please with his Stage 2 effort as he was with his podium effort on Monday, Quintanilla was nonetheless happy to get through the difficult Stage 2.
“The start of the stage was, uh, not so good,” said Quintanilla. “I tried to get my rhythm and focus on navigation, tried to run a good pace through the vegetation. I was focused to don’t do any mistakes and lose too much time. And there was some areas that were really dangerous, so I tried to focus on the terrain. So the main part for me tomorrow is to focus on getting better start, then ride without mistakes or a crash. And I think if I can do that it will help my overall position.”
Just a click outside the top ten on Stage 2 (11th) was Monster Energy/Honda HRC’s Adrien Van Beveren. Roughly seven-and-a-half minutes back of the leader in overall time, Van Beveren had to stop for a couple downed riders in the early going of Stage 2, which affected his overall place and time on Tuesday.
“Not a good feeling at all,” said Van Beveren. “I stopped right away at the beginning when I found Skylar (Howes, Husqvarna rider) crashed, and two kilometers later I found Sam (Sunderland, Gas Gas). … Many dangers at high speed. Many trails that were not marked. And many big holes that were not in the road book. I couldn’t trust the road book, and when you can’t trust the road book you can’t go fast. So my education of today I did not enjoy. I didn’t feel confident, but that’s part of the race, you know? Sometimes you have days like that. I just hope that the road book will be better done on the next day and I hope to again find my good feeling.”
Stage 3 of the Sonora Rally, taking the Monster Energy/Honda racers in massive 466 km loop (350 km Special, 116 km Liaison), starting and finishing in Penasco.
About the Sonora Rally
Overall the Sonora Rally will cover some 1,249 kilometers over five stages (+ a prologue), which include rocky tracks, dunes, dust and hot temperatures – testing man and machine to the fullest in this North American rally with global implications.
The FIA/FIM World Rally Raid Championship schedule is the Sonora Rally in Mexico, April 22-28. For more information on the World Rally Raid Championship, including live timing and scoring, check out the official series website here.