* NASA Rally Sport sanctioned Sandblast Rally took place in Cheraw, SC
* Over 80 car and motorcycle teams
* Dakar bikes fascinate crowd

Motorcycle riders returned to the town of Cheraw in Chesterfield County this past weekend to begin the first step toward claiming the Atlantic RallyMoto(tm) Cup. Having spent last year learning the terrain and nature of this new style of racing, the riders were ready to get their game faces on for serious competition.

Mark Ely, on an Aprilia 5.5 did not disappoint his fans as he smoked through the stages winning the overall by over a minute. This was not an easy win for him, as Mike Gilkey on a KTM 950 Adventure was only seconds behind him each stage. The lead grew slowly as the day wore on and the conditions punished the riders. The final stage, run in darkenss with huge lights blazing, saw Ely cement his victory with a sixteen second victory over Gilkey.

An amazing surprise for the spectators was the appearance of several genuine Dakar motorcycles and riders. James Embro of JJE Racing and outfitter THE RACE SHOP in Georgia assembled a team of three Dakar bikes. The rally was very proud to have these connection to world famous Dakar event on the starting line.

Nerves were pretty high at the start of the race, as the Dakar riders were given priority seeding and started at the front. There was plenty of discussion under the Red Bull arch at the start about who would ultimately be faster and the suitability of the Dakar bikes for the conditions. Embro proved to be a force to be reconned with on his KTM 660 Rallye. “The first couple stages I took it easy since to see what the conditions were like. After the first service I decided to go for it.” The result was a fourth overall in his first participation with NASA Rally Sport’s RallyMoto(tm) program.

“We had a great rally this year.” reported event organizer Anders Green. “We’re actually straining under the popularity. When you’re talking about moving over eighty teams, each on a different schedule, to the precision of seconds, over 600 square miles of closed racing roads, that gets to be a handful. But everyone had a fantastic time and if you’re measuring by smiles, this rally is huge!”

“We’ve had an amazing response to the event.” continued Green. “We already over 2000 photos on SandblastRally.com. We had volunteers come out from the local community, and also from far, far away to help us put on the event. There’s no way we could make this happen without the support from the towns of Cherew, Patrick, and Chesterfield.”

More information is available at SandblastRally.com

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