Big prizes come into view for Red Bull Desert Wings at Rallye du Maroc
The Red Bull Desert Wings squad are taking big strides towards dominating the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. With two stages remaining at Rallye du Maroc we have a pair of race leaders looking to convert another cache of championship points in the coming days.
Five-time Rallye du Maroc winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) have been riding out front since last Friday. The Toyota Hilux duo have set the fastest time on every stage of the rally so far.
Al-Attiyah holds a lead of 13 minutes at the head of the general classification going into tomorrow’s penultimate stage of 337km against the clock. A win in Morocco will bring Al-Attiyah to the cusp of his fifth FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, and his fourth alongside Baumel.
“It was a very tight fight on the stage today. Things were close at the front throughout the stage, but then for the last 120km we really started to push.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Kuba Przygonski (POL) has fought back on the last two stages after enduring a tough day on Saturday. Third place on Stage Two was followed up by second place today as the MINI JCW Buggy driver underlines his desert credentials in the run up to the 2022 Dakar Rally.
Mattias Ekström (SWE) continues to find his feet in rally-raid competition and is getting the kilometres done in the Saharan zone of Southern Morocco. The Swede learned more about driving on the dunes and had to dig himself out of trouble on Stage Three. Despite the hold up he’s just 15 minutes off the overall podium with two stages left.
“We had a good day. We learned a lot, had a lot of fun and we will try again tomorrow.” – Mattias Ekström
It’s not just Al-Attiyah moving closer to FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies glory in Morocco, the path is also clearing for Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP). Gutiérrez is writing one of the most remarkable stories rally-raid has ever seen. Wins earlier this year came at a cost as she broke three vertebrae on the final stage of Rally Kazakhstan. Just four months later she is back behind the wheel of her Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team OT3 and leading the T3 category once again.
“Most important of all is consistency and not making mistakes. There are still two large stages left and we will have to continue like this.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
Gutiérrez’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Seth Quintero (USA) has managed to put two testing opening stages behind him to get back on the pace on Stage Three. The teenage American overtook 39 vehicles today on his way to setting the fastest T3 time and finishing Stage Three as the 12th quickest overall.
“Wish things could have gone differently the first two days but it is what it is and we’re here. Gonna hammer down these next two days.” – Seth Quintero
Both Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team drivers ran the new KDR3 tyre from BFGoodrich on today’s 340km special stage and both avoided punctures all day.
Matthias Walkner’s (AUT) chase for his second FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship is underway in Morocco. The highlight of his rally so far is a win on Stage Two which saw him lead the race. However, a tricky Stage Three now sees him fourth overall.
“All in all, I opened all the 340km and I feel really good with the bike and how I’m riding.” – Matthias Walkner
Walkner’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders – Sam Sunderland (GBR), Kevin Benavides (ARG) and Toby Price (AUS) – have also suffered their own bumps in the road but remain in the race going into the final two stages.
“The new bike is starting to feel very comfortable and things are moving in the right direction. We’ve got a couple more days here, then it’s Abu Dhabi and then the big one in January.” – Toby Price
GasGas Factory rider Daniel Sanders (AUS) has put three steady stages in the bank and sits fifth overall. But it’s been a gruelling couple of days in the desert for bikers Štefan Svitko (SVK) and Camille Chapelière (FRA). A broken engine for Svitko on Stage Two finished his race while problems for Chapelière today saw his hopes of winning the Rally 2 category in Morocco come to an end.
“I learnt a lot and it was good to get into these situations because it helps in a race like Dakar to regroup. I’m in P5 overall with two days remaining” – Daniel Sanders
Rallye du Maroc breaks new ground for tomorrow’s Stage Four so expect unpredictability to hit the general classification once again. With the remaining convoy given a racing route of over 300km on the penultimate stage there’s still plenty of drama left out there on the dunes.
This edition of Rallye du Maroc concludes with a fifth and final stage on Wednesday, October 13. Find the latest results here.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It was a very tight fight on the stage today. Things were close at the front throughout the stage, but then for the last 120km we really started to push. Mathieu’s navigation for the last 50km was spot on without any mistakes.”
Mattias Ekström: “We had a good day. At the start we had decent pace even though the track wasn’t ideal for our car. It was very rough with sharp bumps. I think there were like three dunes on the whole stage and we managed to get stuck on one of them. I lost about 11 minutes there. We did our best to fight back but we suffered in the dust. We learned a lot, had a lot of fun and we will try again tomorrow.”
Cristina Gutiérrez: “Today has been a long and hard day for the mechanics. We had a small navigation problem at first but then everything went great. Most important of all is consistency and not making mistakes. There are still two large stages left and we will have to continue like this.”
Seth Quintero: “P1 today by a little over seven minutes and P12 overall. Dropped the hammer and stoked we could pull off a win. My co-pilot Dennis (Zenz) absolutely killed it. It hasn’t been the easiest go but we kept our heads high and the team never gave up, and here we are. Wish things could have gone differently the first two days but it is what it is and we’re here. Gonna hammer down these next two days.”
Matthias Walkner: “Finally, it was a super cool day. I opened all the stage until 250km and was doing well with the navigation. Then there was a strange note in the roadbook at 250km which took me some time to figure out. All in all, I opened all 340km and I feel really good with the bike and how I’m riding.”
Sam Sunderland: “I started today with a completely different set-up on the bike. It took a little moment to get used to that, but then the good rhythm came. Then I arrived at a strange note in the roadbook at 250km, there were a lot of guys going in circles. Other than that it was a good day and more progress was made on the new bike.”
Kevin Benavides: “Today’s stage was a little complicated at the end. At the beginning I did a small mistake of navigation, it was my fault. After that I was doing good. Then there was something bad in the roadbook and I ended up doing 15km extra. At the end it was not the best day, but rally racing is like this.”
Toby Price: “Day three has gone well. We’re not pushing like crazy, we’re just trying to get time on the bike. I had a little bit of navigation drama at the 180km mark. The roadbook didn’t really match what we were seeing out there. But the new bike is starting to feel very comfortable and things are moving in the right direction. We’ve got a couple more days here, then it’s Abu Dhabi and then the big one in January.”
Daniel Sanders: “A navigation mistake at 30km lost me nine minutes…. I went around in circles for a bit. I then threw my brain in the bin and twisted the throttle to make up some time. I learnt a lot and it was good to get into these situations because it helps in a race like Dakar to regroup. I’m in P5 overall with two days remaining”