Ross Branch bagged a seventh place finish in Mexico, while Sebastian Buhler finished 10th.
Both Hero MotoSports riders completed the 2023 Sonora Rally in the top 10 in what was the Indian team’s first outing in the North American continent. Competing in the premier Rally GP class, Ross Branch finished seventh overall, while Sebastian Buhler was 10th.
- Daniel Sanders wins 2023 Sonora Rally
- Hero will next compete in Argentina this August
Branch seventh in 2023 Sonora Rally
The Sonora Rally, spanning five stages across the Sonoran Desert, is known for its Dakar-style stages. Covering nearly 2,300km, the rally featured a mix of terrain ranging from soft dunes, beaches, river beds to fast tracks.
This was both Hero MotoSports riders’ first time competing in North America, so they were faced with the added challenge of familiarising themselves with the new terrain. Fresh off a strong fifth place result in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Branch delivered another consistent performance, finishing in the top 10 in all stages barring one. He crossed the finish line seventh in the overall classification, a little over 30 seconds off the lead.
“Happy to be in one piece at the finish of my first Sonora Rally. I really enjoyed the race in this new terrain. Not the overall result I was expecting to achieve, but we will keep on working and keep pushing towards the team goal. I am looking forward to the next race in Argentina in a few months’ time,” said Branch.
GasGas rider Daniel Sanders won the rally, ahead of Honda’s Tosha Schareina and Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides.
Buhler 10th in 2023 Sonora Rally
Buhler lost some time early on due to a navigational error and challenges getting to grips with the terrain. But he made steady gains and ended up finishing 10th. “Overall, it was a really nice rally, even though it was a completely new terrain for some of us in the championship,” he said. “So, I took a little bit of time to get into the rhythm, but I feel I kept improving day by day, and was able to enjoy the race.”
Reflecting on the team’s performance, Hero MotoSports team manager Wolfgang Fischer said, “It’s our first time here in Mexico, and we are happy to finish well, without any technical issues or crashes. We suffered a bit with the fact that it is our first, and yet we still managed to learn quickly and tried to catch up with the other teams who were already exposed to this terrain in the past.”
“It is sad that the race route was changed quite a lot from the initial plan, so we missed a lot of the nice big dunes in the northern part of Mexico. Even though it wasn’t really the complete rally we expected, the organisers still did their best to make it a good race. I look forward to bringing back the team in the best shape to Argentina for the next round, the Ruta 40. Thanks to all our teams, partners and fans for their continued support and motivation.”
The team will now focus on training for the remaining rounds of the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship. Their next outing will be at the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina this August, followed by the Rallye Du Maroc in October.