Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters - Hero MotoCorp, completed the 3rd Stage of Sonora Rally 2023, crossing the halfway point of the race.
Factory riders Ross Branch and Sebastian Buhler rode well and brought their Hero 450s home to the beach-camp bivouac at Peurto Peñasco, netting the 8th and 9th positions respectively. At the end of 3 stages, Branch and Buhler also hold top-10 overall positions in the Rally.
With 350 kms of timed sections, Stage 3 today became the longest special of the week long Mexican adventure. The first loop around the coastal city of Peurto Peñasco took the competitors south-east on a wild ride through the magnificent outdoors of the vastly unoccupied Sonoran terrain. Lots of sand, dunes, camel grass and broken pistes were on the menu, while the most attractive of all for riders today were the stretches of riding on the beach front. The serene blues of the Sea of Cortez – famous for its whale watching and sport fishing – would occasionally lure the riders to take a pause from the intense riding, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the grand Mexican coastline.
For Ross Branch, Stage 3 was a long, yet fulfilling day on his bike. He lost some time today, but hopes to continue focusing on making headway into the top of the leaderboard in the remaining 2 days. The Botswanan athlete currently holds the 8th overall rank in the Rally GP class.
Sebastian Buhler too, had a quite long and difficult stage in the sun. However, he found himself having a better feeling with the bike today than in the previous stage, and enjoyed a more confident ride. His consistent improvement pushes him into the overall top-10, fetching him a 10th position.
As the Rally crosses its midpoint, the competition within the elite Rally GP class has become neck-to-neck, with very tight time gaps existing between the riders. With the new terrain posing unexpected dangers, a few of the top W2RC riders have also conceded to injury and retired from the race.
The second loop from Peurto Penasco in Stage 4 will take the riders eastward, deeper into the Sonoran Desert, and closer towards the US border. A long day lies ahead with over 485 km of riding, of which 248 km will form the timed special.
“Stage 3 was a long and tough day on the saddle. We had everything thrown at us - hard packs, soft sands, dunes, plus some incredible beach riding. I lost a bit of time today, but we still have two days left to give our best shot and catch up with the leaders. Looking forward to the last two days.”
“Another stage done here at Sonora Rally. Today I felt better on the bike, and the riding was indeed better than yesterday. The time gaps are very tight between the competitors, so it's quite difficult to make some headway up. But my feeling on the bike is getting better, so I'm trying to improve daily, and finish with a good result.”