5 minutes…Tosha Schareina – they gave you a HRC CRF450 Rally?!
You get a call from Honda Racing to be part of the factory team on the HRC-built CRF450 Rally in the Sonora Rally round of the World Rally-Raid Championship…Tosha Schareina explains how the heck that happened.
Zero to hero is a touch disrespectful to Tosha Schareina’s talents but the truth is not many people in the world had heard of the Spaniard before the 2023 Sonora Rally.
The Sonora, in Mexico, was new to the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship calendar and fresh ground for many riders – not without its problems for some too it turned out.
But it was also one monumental rocketship into the W2RC limelight for Spanish off-road rider Schareina after he got the call-up from Monster Honda Rally Team manager, Ruben Faria.
The call was to step into the place of Joan Barreda at the North American round of the world championship as an additional member in the squad basically, backing the four factory riders with the dream gift of riding a full-on Honda Racing Company CRF 450 Rally.
After a few days testing with the team in Mexico, Schareina embarked on a rollercoaster ride which included the stage win ahead of the world’s best Rally-Raid riders and following that up with second place across each stage to finally land P2 on the podium alongside Daniel Sanders and Kevin Benavides.
Enduro21 had to find out, how the heck did he get to ride one of these (minus the Monster logos)?
Tosha! What a way to hit the headlines. How did this opportunity with Honda come about?
Tosha Schareina: “It all happened pretty fast is the truth. Ruben Faria, team manager of the Honda team, called to offer the chance to get behind the bars of one of their motorcycles in the World Rally-Raid Championship round and I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“The CRF 450 Rally I rode was the same as the four official riders, although with the difference that I was not part of the official HRC team and I competed in this rally as a wildcard.”
You have always raced with Austrian bikes, how has the change to a Honda CRF 450 Rally, what are the differences between both bikes?
“The truth is these are two types of motorcycle with very different philosophy, but it is difficult not to feel comfortable with a bike like this. Personally, I am very happy with the feeling I got straight away with the Honda in the Sonora Rally.”
How does it feel to win a W2RC stage and get on the podium in an event with all the big names in rally-raid racing?
“The feeling of being able to fight against your idols is incredible and being able to win was indescribable. When I reached the finish line, when I found out that I had won, I did not believe it because I didn’t feel like I did anything different to usual during the stage.
“In the first part of the special I concentrated on making good navigation and maintaining a high pace. When I got to the neutralisation, they told me I was going first and I didn’t believe it. So, at that point, I knew there were only 50 kilometres to go and that I could make it. I focused on riding the way I know how, without getting nervous and trying to keep up the pace until the end without making any mistakes…everything went well!”
The best time in the first stage was not a flash in the pan, your times were consistent during the stages…
“The race was incredible. The final result calculation was 1-2-2-2-2 in the five stages of the race.
“The second day was crucial to convince myself that I could be there, after having won the first stage, the next day, it was my turn to open the track and I was able to do it throughout the day, knowing that I had Sanders behind me, stepping on my heels and squeezing hard.
“The other stages I focused on doing my job day by day, without thinking about the end result, trying to stay focused at all times, on every metre. When we faced the last day, I knew that the possibility of getting on the podium was real and that it was something that I could achieve.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous at the beginning, but as soon as I got on the bike, I put my nerves behind me completely and tried to just focus on riding again.”
Looking back, what do you think was the key to this podium in Mexico?
“The bike we already know is great, but the whole team was incredible. We spent three days training in the United States, which allowed me to arrive at the Sonora Rally with a few extra kilometres of navigation before the race and to start understanding the bike and the event from the beginning, in the initial stage.”
Do you end the Sonora Rally with the feeling of having done your homework and seizing your opportunity?
“I always try to do my best, but I think this result has surprised everyone. I am very happy to have been able to repay in some way the opportunity that the Honda team has given me to compete in this rally.”
What are your plans now for this season and the next Dakar 2024?
“You already know that I want everything and more, but we will still have to wait a bit to know the next step…”
Photo Credit: MCHPhotoCZ + Horacio Cabilla