Sonora Rally is a multi-day cross-country off-road rally in Mexico’s scenic Sonora Desert, utilizing Dakar style rally roadbooks for navigation.
Though you may see a lot of photos and discussion about the massive sand dunes from our previous events, don’t think that’s all you’ll see. Dunes will still be a part of the event, however, we are expanding to even more all new terrain.
Competitors will traverse everything from rocky mountains, washes, kilometers of flat-out beaches, open deserts and the largest most remote sand dunes in the Americas. If you’re familiar with Baja, Nevada, and similar traditional desert racing, kick those silty whooped-out habits because this is completely different! Nearly all of Sonora Rally is on roads and terrain completely unknown to off-road racing.
As with most cross-country rallies, the actual race course is never published in any form, and never known by the racers until they are on it in the race. Roadbooks for each stage are handed out the evening before that stage is to be raced, so there is little time to study it, and no opportunity to prerun it. The course is not marked, and no GPS tracks will be provided, nor allowed. And since the whole event is held in a region few if any of the competitors have ever been to, there will be no “past experience” to give local knowledge advantage to one competitor over another. Twenty-year Baja racing veterans won’t know the course any better than newcomers to Mexico.
A unique roadbook will be provided for each stage. The roadbook is the key tool for navigating the race course. All race vehicles are required to have an odometer with 1/10 or 1/100 kilometer precision, as well as a digital compass (GPS) that provides “true North” vehicle headings in numeric format (0 to 359 degrees). The odometer MUST be adjustable up and down in distance via manual control. Utilizing a GPS as an odometer is generally not acceptable since they are usually not easily adjustable on-the-fly. All distances in the roadbook will be in kilometers, not miles. These are all standard requirements for cross-country rallies worldwide.
In cross-country rally, competitors take care of themselves on the race course. Crew support can only be given in the bivouac. Any support provided to competitors by crew members on Specials or Transfers is forbidden except where specifically authorized by the rally organization. Only competitors can help other competitors on Specials or Transfers (Liaisons).
Cars will start after the bikes, and some stages will be split towards the end so bikes and cars are on different tracks. The car course may also be a bit longer than the bike course to add to the separation.
Also, some of the stages will be mostly dunes and HP (no road) towards the end if not the full length. In those cases you won’t be stuck on a road with a berm or cliff on each side. So, any car that might be approaching a bike can take their own path that doesn’t coincide with the bike’s path, and cars have the freedom to go well around to pass in these areas. In addition, it’s tough to make dust in sand, so visibility in most areas should be excellent.
In addition, we will be using the Rally Comp device which implements a Pass Alert function that allows a car to signal a bike (trigger a loud beeper on the bike) when approaching to pass. This type of alert system works very well as proven in Dakar and other events worldwide.
The bivouac is generally an encampment where competitors and crew stay overnight between rally stages. It’s a pit area, camping area, eating area, social hangout and more. At minimum there will be outhouse bathrooms and camping showers available in each bivouac.
At some of our previous events, the bivouac was nothing more than an abandoned brick barn surrounded by miles of wide-open desert. Yet we turned it into a really cool place that the competitors loved!.
Each stage has fuel available near the start of the Special (usually your gas can at the bivouac), and on some stages a single neutralized (off the clock) fuel stop mid-way through. Competitors must supply their own fuel.
For Motorcycles we typically aim for a distance of 150-160km between authorized refueling. Any stages longer than 150km the organization will have a 10 minute neutralized stop in order to fuel the bike safely.
Cars, trucks, UTVs and Adventure Raid entries should have fuel range of at least 250km. More range is better! Keep in mind fuel range is much worse in sand and dunes than what you would normally get, so give yourself plenty of margin!