RALLYE DU MAROC 2021
ANOTHER TOUGH DAY
“The most scenic stage,” according to David Castera. “The most balanced too,” added the Rallye du Maroc’s alchemist. “A scaled down 2022 Dakar special,” with a long morning liaison of more than 200 kilometres to reach, after 82 kilometres, the highest dunes of the Kingdom (150 metres) with a return trip back across the Chebbi Erg. A second sand stage. ‘Regulars’ were surprised to see how much has changed in the last two years. Deprived of 4X4 tourists ‘thanks’ to the worldwide pandemic, their tracks in this remote Saharan zone of Southern Morocco have been swept away. Careful navigation was crucial. It should be noted that today the FIM RallyGP and FIA Auto categories had a slightly longer route through the dunes than the other categories.
ROAD BOOK | STAGE 2 : Even more sand
L1: 211 / SS: 334 / L2 : 62 km – Total : 607 (Moto FIM / Auto FIA)
L1: 211 / SS: 318 / L2 : 62 – Total : 591 (Enduro Cup / Quad / SSV / Open)
A good ride today from Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory) who wins the stage and takes the overall lead. But also an impressive team performance from Monster Energy Honda. Starting first, second and third this morning on another stage sandy they worked well together to open the way and limit the damage. Although Walkner leads this evening he will have to open tomorrow and overall is only 19 seconds ahead of Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) who will start second tomorrow morning, 1 minute ahead of Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) who will start seventh tomorrow and 3 minutes in front of Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) who will start back in 11th place ! Big losers today in the high temperatures were Franco Caimi (Hero Motorsport) and Stefan Svitko (KTM Svitko) both of whom broke engines. In Rally2 another impressive performance from the young American Mason Klein (BAS Dakar KTM) who opened his class the whole day to win the stage 07:28 ahead of Paolo Lucci (Solarys Racing). Overall Klein leads Frenchman Camille Chapeliere (KTM Baines Moto) by 09:58. In Enduro Cup Afriquia the Morrocan Amine Echiguer continues to dominate with Axel Dutrie (Drag’on Racing) still the fastest quad.
In the cars Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) opened today but still managed to beat off his rivals, with Yazeed Al Rajhi (Toyota Overdrive) finishing 06:01 behind his rival after being slowed down by 3 punctures and a gearbox problem. Third on the day was Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini) back in the race after yesterday’s mechanical problems. Overall Nasser now leads Yazeed by 10:18 with the Argentinian Lucio Alvarez (Toyota Overdrive) third at 32:32. In the T3 lightweight prototype class victory once again went to Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) while in the T4 SSV class the Brazilian Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira (South Racing) won the stage with the Pole Michal Goczal (Energylandia) leading overall.
Neveu back in the race
Cyril Neveu, the creator of the Rallye du Maroc in 2000, is back! And this time he’s racing. He and his son Alexis are entered in the SSV Open Maroc Telecom category and he is also the team manager of Team Galag. The team are running two Can-Am Mavericks prepared by MMP Competition. One for the father-son duo, the other in T3 for the newcomer Jérôme de Sadeleer and the experienced professional motorcyclist Michaël Metge (see Rallye du Maroc and me). The objective of this Saudi team is to run two TG-D1 T3s in the 2022 Dakar. For Cyril Neveu, winner of the first rally-raid in Morocco in 1982, this is not his first outing on four wheels. After his motorcycle career he drove a Bourgoin buggy and then a Kellogg’s buggy in the 1995 Atlas Rally, his last appearance as a competitor in Morocco. “I’m here to help Jérôme de Sadeleer who will be our lead driver in the 2022 Dakar and to see what it is like to race a lightweight vehicle for myself. With my son the goal isn’t to win anything but to share an experience like I did with my father and my brother who assisted me in their Range Rover when I first started racing. For Alexis it’s the first time. Yesterday it was him at the wheel, today it will be me. I am very happy to be back on a rally-raid and return to the Dakar after 30 years! I was 35 the last time I took part, I’m 65 now”.
STAT OF THE DAY : 14
A few years ago their categories didn’t even exist. Now they are the boom sectors in rally-raid. Relatively affordable and easy to drive, T3s and T4s dominate the bivouac with the South Racing team alone entering a staggering 14 of them on the 2021 Rallye du Maroc: 2 T3 lightweight prototypes and 12 T4 SSVs. That’s 28 competitors, 60 staff from 16 different countries and 12 support vehicles. On the 2022 Dakar, when they hook up with South Racing Middle East, they’ll be even more of them!
THE RALLY DU MAROC AND ME
Michaël Metge (Team Galag)
“It was in 2019. After 2 years with Yamaha and 3 with Honda I was into my second season with Sherco. I hadn’t raced Rallye du Maroc before because I was either injured or it wasn’t in my schedule.”
“Not great as I injured my knee on the prologue. I rode the race but couldn’t fight for a result. And in the end it meant I wasn’t able to go on the Dakar, with my brother Adrien taking my place. It was the year that Paulo Goncalves died and after that I decided to stop. The Rallye du Maroc was thus my last race as a factory rider and now my first rally-raid as a co-driver. My teammate Jérôme de Sadeleer (Team Galad) is also a newbie in T3. We started together on the Baja Aragon and finished 3rd in our class. He’s a fast learner and I can help him with my experience.
Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory) : 1st and 1st overall
“I rode really hard all day and finally I won the stage and take the overall lead. I’m a little bit surprised not to have got caught by some of the fast guys behind me like Ross Branch, Sam, Toby…. I was also happy to catch the Hondas because as we saw in Dakar they can open really fast when they are all together. I saw at the refuelling that I was getting close to them and then at around km 300 we were all together.”
Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) : 11th at 08:43 and 4th overall at 03:01
“Today was hard work opening almost the whole stage together with Ricky. Early on, around kilometre 40, I made a small mistake and maybe lost 4 minutes. But overall I’m pretty happy that I managed to maintain a good rhythm.”
Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) : 7th at 05:48 and 3rd overall at 01:00
“Today we started one two three. Joan opened really fast today. I caught him around kilometre 30 and just tailed him, working together with him. And then just before refuelling Pablo joined us and from there we rode together and I think it was a really good team effort. Hopefully we can carry on like this for the next three days…”
Mason Klein (BAS Dakar KTM) : 1st Rally2 and 1st Rally2 overall
“After yesterday I decided to take it easy because, as a lot of people reminded me, Dakar is the goal. Obviously I want to finish everyday well but to finish good you have to navigate well and that’s what I focused on. If I won today I didn’t do it on purpose!”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) : 1st and 1st overall
“A pretty good day. We had one puncture but that’s normal on a day like today and not a big issue. We changed it in one minute. I’m quite happy. We did a good job with the navigation. Tomorrow we will open again and its all good experience for us.”
Yazeed Al Rajhi (Toyota Overdrive) : 2nd at 06:01 and 2nd overall at 10:18
“Difficult day for us. Three punctures and no spare left and a problem with second gear which we were worried would get worse.”
Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini Buggy) 3rd at 06:49 and 19th overall at 4h42:24
“Today we had a lot of dust because we were starting at the back and the dunes were really soft and not easy to climb with the rear wheel drive car. In the last 10 kms we had a puncture. For sure we need more miles with the buggy but it is getting more fluid. The track wasn’t easy with some hard navigation but we enjoyed it.”
Erik Van Loon (Toyota Overdrive) : T1+ not classified
“Everything on the car is new, new suspension, new tyres. The suspension is not where it should be yet and we lack top speed because this car is already restricted for the new regulations. In addition we have to open everyday, now the second day in the dunes, so we lose a bit of time to Nasser and Yazeed. What is amazing is we have had no punctures. We are still looking for the limits of the tyres. So far we haven’t found them.”
Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) : 1st T3
“Today was a very difficult stage, very long and we need to manage the race. We are of course thinking about the championship so we tried not to take any risks during the stage.”
Amine Echiguer : 1st Enduro Cup Afriquia
“Everything good except the last 20 kilometres which was super tricky navigation. But David (Castera) warned us. I had 5 other bikes following me, who were counting on me to find the right way. I felt better today than yesterday which surprised me. I thought I would be more tired.”
Distances (km) : L1: 76 / SS: 340 / L2 : 187 – Total : 603