RALLYE DU MAROC 2021
BRABEC MAKES THE BREAK
Stage 3 : Less sand, more navigation
Distances (km) : L1: 76 / SS: 340 / L2 : 187 – Total : 603
In the bikes Monster Energy Honda’s good run continues, at least for ex-Dakar winner Ricky Brabec. Starting 6th this morning and hampered by the dust he wasn’t expecting much from his day until after the refuelling when he found the way out of a oued that everybody else had, up until then, missed. Sebastian Buhler (Hero Motorsports) also found the right track to finish 2nd on the day at 02:04, as did Andrew Short (Monster Energy Yamaha Rally) 3rd at 05:24. Less ‘lucky’ with the navigation was Brabec’s teammate Joan Barreda who missed three waypoints at 15 minutes a pop to slide down to 13th overall, leaving Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) second and Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory) third. In Rally2 Mason Klein (BAS Dakar KTM) also missed a waypoint to hand the win to Paolo Lucci. Overall however the young American still leads by 14:05. The leading quad in the Rally2 class is Manuel Andujar (Yamaha Raptor 700) 9th overall. In motorbike Enduro Cup Afriquia victory went to Cedric Jacques (Razorback à Sable).
In the cars Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) nearly had his winning streak interrupted by Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini) but in the end the Hilux driver won the stage by 27 seconds with Yazeed Al Rahji (Toyota Overdrive) 3rd at 2:42. Overall Nasser increases his lead on Yazeed to exactly 13 minutes with Lucio Alvarez (Toyota Overdrive) maintaining his third place. In T3 Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team) overtook no less than 39 cars to win his class and finish 11th on the day 21:12 behind Nasser. In T4 it was the first win of the 2021 Rally du Maroc for the Polish driver Aron Domzala (Monster Energy CamAm). Overall Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) maintains her lead in T3 with Michal Goczal doing the same in T4.
Mason Klein singularly fails to conform to anyone’s stereotypical image of a teenage Californian off-road rider. Tall, pale, skinny, dark haired, shy and bespectacled he’s more silicone valley start up than sand dune. But when he starts talking about rally-raid his face comes alive. “I started riding moto-x pretty young but my brother ran me over and injured my knee so I had to cut out the jumps. At 12 I started racing in the desert.” His compatriots’ success on the international scene inspired him to enter the USA’s only road book race, the Sonora Rally, where in 2020, at the tender age of 18, he finished the last stage 3rd behind Ricky Brabec and Skyler Howes! His love affair with road book navigation was born. These days when he’s not on his bike he’s in front of his computer making routes and dreaming of racing Dakar. A dream that is very shortly about to become a reality. Assisted by KTM’s Junior Team (BAS Dakar KTM) he’s racing the Rallye du Maroc as preparation for his Saudi Arabian debut next January. And he’s already making a big impression. A breath of fresh air in the sweltering heat of the Moroccan desert, his calm modesty makes you think he’ll be more than capable of navigating the pressure of international rally-raid racing.
STAT OF THE DAY : 10
This is the 10th Rallye du Maroc for the Moroccan biker Harite Gabari. The rally-raid stalwart raced the event for the first time in 2008. He’d initially planned on racing the Dakar but that was cancelled…. He even won a stage at his first attempt and finished 5th overall. “But the top riders weren’t there. In 2010 however they were and I finished 10th. To celebrate my 10th participation I’ve put together a team in Rally2 with two other Moroccan riders, Ali Oukerbouch from Merzouga and Aoulad Ali Mohamed Said from Tétouan.” To date Harite is the only Moroccan to have finished the Dakar.
THE RALLY DU MAROC AND ME
Andrew Short (Monster Energy Yamaha Rally) – 2019 title order
“2017, my first rally”
“I didn’t even know here Morocco was. I had to look on a map”
“ I got the call right before the race. I got smoked (comprehensively beaten) but it was a really cool experience and a big eye opener on how fast everyone was but also how cool and professional the bivouac was and how rally worked. The last one we did here I won.”
Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) : 1st and 1st overall
“I started back in 6th this morning and the dust was really hanging. At the refuelling I hadn’t lost any time but I hadn’t pulled any back either. Then at one point after the refuelling the road book note showed that we had to leave the river bed and I saw that all the other tracks ahead of me had stayed in the river and I suppose it was just gut instinct. I was 12 minutes behind everybody and suddenly there’s no tracks in front of me but all the dangers were bleeping so I knew I was right and I did the last 60 kms out on my own. You have to stay focus on the road book. Rally without the road book is just racing.”
Sebastian Buhler (Hero Motorsport) : 2nd at 02:04 and 27th overall 40h23:17
“I found the exit from the oued and I heard that a lot of riders lost time there so I think that was the key to the stage today. I felt good on the bike since this morning and we made some changes on the bike that I liked so let’s continue like that.”
Andrew Short (Monster Energy Yamaha Rally) : 3rd at 05:24 and 10th overall at 32:06
“I felt like I rode a lot better today and I navigated well and quickly. There was one particularly tricky point where I caught a bunch of people.”
Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Yamaha) : 4th at 05:46 and 5th overall 17:33
“I’m not necessarily the fastest, except maybe in the dunes, so I count on being consistent. Yesterday that saw me finish 12th. Today I didn’t do anything differently and I finished 4th. I tend to really slow down when the navigation is tricky. Sometimes it pays off like today where you had to come out of the oued.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) : 1st and 1st overall
“Yes a good day for us. From the beginning we just tried to finish the stage without any problems. The last part we push a little bit. No problems with the car and Mathieu did a good job.”
Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini) : 2nd at 00:27 and 35th overall at 04h42:51
“Stage 3 was a good day for us. It was a hard stage with a lot of holes and stones. We almost won it but 10 kms from the finish we caught Yazeed just as he’d finished changing the tyre and we were stuck in his dust. The plan is to race this car on the Dakar and that is why we are making a lot of tests and as much mileage as possible.”
Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team) : 14th at 28:05 and 10th overall at 1h31:34
“Another hard day, very long. A lot of rocks and a lot of navigation. We made a little mistake at the beginning but we didn’t lose a lot of time. We are still in the top 15 so I’m happy. I’m playing for the championship…”
Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team) : 11th at 21:12 and 41st overall
“Today was awesome. The last couple of days have been of an experience. I haven’t had the best of luck and finally our luck turned around. Hopefully we can win the next 2 days.”
L1: 118 / SS: 367 / L2 : 61 – Total : 546 (Moto FIM / Auto FIA)
L1: 118 / SS: 337 / L2 : 75 – Total : 530 (Enduro Cup / Quad / SSV / Open)