Check Point | March 24 2020
MEDIA | HONDA
Welcome to Check Point, a new weekly feature that will cover the ongoings in the off-road motorcycle racing world, presented by Moose Racing. Although motocross and Supercross is the center of the SML universe, our staff has massive respect for the varied disciplines of off-road, from SuperEnduro to Rally to GNCC to Big Six, and we always have an eye on what’s happening in the professional racing series. Every week we will bring updates from around the world, including race results, photos, video highlights, and new bike or product debuts.
Since this is an early installment of the feature, we want to hear your feedback. Drop a comment below and let us know what you think or what you want to see.
2020 SONORA RALLY
Last week off-road racers flocked to Mexico for the 2020 Sonora Rally. Held over the span of five days and 1358 km, it tests riders and drivers with fast runs through dry river beds, mountainous terrain, and even sand dunes. Widely considered to be the closest thing in North America to the fabled Dakar Rally, it’s becoming a fixture on the calendar and was made more prestigious since it’s one of the few events still to happen amid the COVID-19 crisis. Inclement weather occurred during multiple Stages and forced organizers to shorten Stage Two and Stage Three, which put even more importance on the time in the saddle.
The comparisons between the Sonora Rally and Dakar Rally will likely intensify due to Ricky Brabec’s performance. Still riding high from his historic win in Saudia Arabia earlier this year, the Monster Energy Honda Team rider was the top finisher in the Motorcycle division and earned the victory the hard way. A 13-minute penalty due for an assortment of issues put Brabec in a tough spot during Stage One, but speed and consistency through the remaining days allowed him to claw back into contention. A massive ride in Stage Two allowed Brabec to cut the gap between himself and the front-runners, while wins in Stage Four and Stage Five allowed him to snatch away the win on the last day. This is Brabec’s third victory at the Sonora Rally.
Skyler Howes proved to be Brabec’s biggest adversary during the week in Mexico. The Garrett Off-Road Racing/KTM rider claimed the win in Stage One and took control of the top spot early, then stayed in the hunt with a second-place finish in Stage Two, a win in Stage Three, and second-place results at Stage Four and Stage Five. Howes had the overall win in sight until the final day, but this result and his effort through the week (he was one of just three Motorcycle class finishers that did not receive a time penalty) should be enough to earn some more attention in the off-road paddock.
Bill Conger rounded out the podium in the Motorcycle class, as he used his veteran experience to avoid the pitfalls of Rally racing that struck some of his other competitors. Although mechanical issues severely hampered Mason Klein’s final result, the teenage racer proved to be one of the top riders of the week with third-place finishes in four separate Stages.