With four of five stages now complete in the inaugural Sonora Rally, Round Three of the ’23 FIA/FIM World Rally Raid Championship in Mexico, Monster Energy-backed Tosh Schareina (Honda HGA) continued his stronghold on 2nd place overall with another runner-up stage finish. Through four rounds Schareina, a test rider for Monster Energy/Honda HRC’s factory team, has scored three 2nd place finishes, along with an opening stage victory on Monday.
World Rally Raid Championship, Sonora Rally
Stage 4: Penasco to Penasco
2nd - Tosh Schareina (Monster/Honda/HGA)
6th - Ricky Brabec (Monster/Honda/HRC)
9th - Ross Branch (Monster/Hero Motorsport)
On Thursday’s penultimate Stage 4 of the Sonora Rally, Schareina led all Monster Energy/Honda racers with a 2:43:55 time over the 248 km Special (237 km Liaison) loop starting and ending in the town of Penasco. Schareina was able to gain some time on overall race leader Daniel Sanders (Gas Gas), who led by over seven minutes heading into Stage 4. With a 4th place finish from Sanders today (2:44:51), the overall lead was cut down below six minutes.
Said Schareina of today’s stage: “Hard day at the office! (laughter) I’m happy with my riding, but I have a few mistakes during the whole stage. But another fast, fast day. Good views next to the beach for 20 kilometers more or less. And again I’m very happy and ready to focus on tomorrow, the last stage of this rally.”
Checking in with a top ten (7th) finish today was Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy/Honda HRC), right behind Monster Energy-backed Ross Branch (Hero Motorsport) in 6th. The Californian had two podium finishes (3rd place in both Stage 2 & 3) leading into Stage 4, and following four stages, sits in 7th place overall - the top ranking for a Monster Energy/Honda HRC racer at the Sonora Rally. Branch is one position ahead of Brabec overall in 6th place.
Said Brabec of his Stage 4 effort: “Stage 4 was definitely a struggle for us, me. I didn’t really feel comfortable today, didn’t feel confident. Made a really amateur decision early on, couldn’t really find the flow today. I’m just happy to be at the finish of Stage 4. Nothing we can do with one stage left. Just basically out here training, basically, and riding now. Especially given what happened on Stage 2 (Brabec/Honda team was penalized for an improper engine swap). My teammate, Tosh, is doing really well. He’s in a really good spot. So we’ll get some rest tonight and push for the final day tomorrow.”
Rounding out Monster Energy/Honda HRC’s top 15 place finishers were Adrien Van Beveren in 12th, Nacho Cornejo in 13th and Pablo Quintanilla in 15th.
Said Van Beveren of what went down on Stage 4 today: “For sure it was really not nice today. We arrive to checkpoint 76 and the road book was confusing. I decide to stay calm. And normally at this point you can make a big difference, so I reset my road book slowly, check the map, was like ‘Oh, good,’ I’m on the good (check) points. So I went there and there was nobody there. I was like ‘Good, they must be lost,’ because I started sixth and knew there was like five guys in front of me. I’m thinking at the next stop I’m leading.”
But that would not be the case as technical issues would lead to numerous racers from multiple teams (beyond Monster Energy/Honda HRC) taking wrong turns based off incorrect road book settings from race officials. Race officials did the best they could to sort things out, but, ultimately, things would not play in favor of Van Beveren, Cornejo and Quintanilla on Stage 4.
Friday’s final stage, Stage 5 of the Sonora Rally, will hit the sands stretching 139 km (Special) from Penasco to San Luis, including a lengthy 259 km Liaison. Just a few short gravel sections along the route, dominated by sandy terrain to complete the inaugural World Rally Raid Championship’s Sonora Rally and crown its motorcycle division overall champion.
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 at here.