Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is ready to take on the 2023 Sonora Rally. Held in Mexico and featuring as part of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship for the first time, the five-stage event looks set to deliver an exciting and sizeable challenge.
Toby Price, fresh from his podium result at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, will be joined by teammates Kevin Benavides and Matthias Walkner, both of whom return to competition after recovering from injury.
Following a short prologue to decide the start order for stage one, the Sonora Rally will deliver five full days of racing in the stunning Sonoran Desert of Mexico. Covering well over 2,000 kilometres and challenging riders with around 1,250 kilometres of timed special, the event will see racers cover a variety of terrain including dunes, rocky riverbeds and long, open beaches.
Coming into the third round of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship leading the standings, Toby Price will be looking to extend his advantage with a strong result in Mexico ahead of the summer break. The event, as it is for the majority of the class, is new to Toby, but the two-time Dakar winner is looking forward to taking on the Sonoran terrain and hopefully adding another race win to his formidable record.
What Toby Price had to say
“It’s the first time at the Sonora Rally and these conditions for me, but I think that’s the same for most of the field. I’m in the lead of the championship, so my plan in Mexico is just have a nice, super-smooth race and try and manage everything the best that I can. Obviously, a win or a podium would be amazing, but a good, solid, and safe result is always the main goal. It’s looking like a fun and challenging race, so I can’t wait to get going.”
Forced to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in February following an accident during the event’s shakedown tests that resulted in him breaking his femur, Kevin Benavides returns to competition at the Sonora Rally looking to build his confidence, speed, and get some all-important miles completed on his KTM 450 RALLY. Kevin has worked tirelessly since receiving surgery on his leg, and while not at 100 per cent fitness just yet, the reigning Dakar Champion is keen to get back to racing and safely complete the Sonora Rally.
What Kevin Benavides had to say
“I’m so happy to be back here racing – I’ve really missed that feeling of getting ready for competition. Since my crash and the surgery, I’ve tried to reset my mind and just focus on my recovery. It’s gone really well – I’ve pushed so hard every single day to build my strength, stamina, and to be ready mentally to return to racing. I’ve spent around six or seven hours per day training, so it’s definitely been a tough journey. My goal at the Sonora Rally is simple, just make it to the finish. If I can put in some good performances, that’s even better, but I’m focused on making that finish line.”
Also returning to action in Sonora, Matthias Walkner will be looking to put the injury that cruelly forced him out of the Dakar on the penultimate stage behind him and get his season back underway. Aware of the challenge that awaits, Matthias will use round three of the championship to further build his speed and feeling on the bike while aiming for a safe finish.
What Matthias Walkner had to say
“First of all, I’m super happy to be back on the bike. Dakar was a tough one for me with some big crashes and being forced out of the event right near the end. Thankfully I didn’t have any big injuries, so my recovery hasn’t been too bad. I’ve spent the last five weeks or so on the bike, but I still have a little work to do on my confidence and my fitness. The team at Red Bull have been amazing in getting me back on the bike quickly. But now I have to look forward and that starts with the race in Mexico. My plan is to enjoy it and settle back into racing. It’s going to be tough, and hot, but hopefully I can come away with a solid result.”
Starting in Hermosillo on Sunday, April 23 with the prologue, the 2023 Sonora Rally then leads competitors over five tough stages to the finish in San Luis on Friday, April 28.