Wednesday, October 4
Rallye du Maroc has attracted plenty of offroad racing talent to the dunes of North Africa. Red Bull Desert Wings racers are primed for battled in the car and bike categories as they look to secure pole position for the upcoming Dakar Rally.
Looking to defend his Rallye du Maroc car title over 1,995 kilometres of timed racing is two-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari sand racing expert and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel have been working hard all year to turn their Toyota Hilux into an ultra-competitive machine. Another win in Morocco would demonstrate that the duo are ready to roll on their Dakar trip to South America early next year.
“I’m looking forward to racing in Morocco and another important step towards winning the FIA Cross-Country World Championship. Heading into the race we need six points to take the title.”– Nasser Al-Attiyah
Looking to get in front of Al-Attiyah will be a pair of crews competing in the car that won the last edition of the Dakar. Spaniards Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz finished as runners-up last year in Morocco and are out to go one better in their PEUGEOT 3008 DKR this time around. Also driving a PEUGEOT 3008 DKR is Frenchman Sébastien Loeb and his Monegasque co-driver Daniel Elena. This pair have nine WRC titles to their name and it only seems a matter of time until they have some rally-raid success to celebrate.
“We intend to continue on our momentum on the Rallye du Maroc which was my first cross-country rally in 2015. In the two years since then, I think it’s fair to say we have covered a great deal of ground and made good progress together. We now need to convert that into victory!” – Sébastien Loeb
Loeb was on course to win the Silk Way Rally earlier in the year before a heavy crash ended his chances of victory. American offroader Bryce Menzies and compatriot co-driver Pete Mortensen were also steering towards a podium finish at Silk Way before navigation errors lost them time. This duo will be looking to keep their MINI on the right track in Morocco and stay close to their more experienced rivals for as along as possible.
Also fighting for the front at the six stage rally-raid will be Poland’s Kuba Przygoński and his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul in their own MINI machine.
Cars and bikes will participate in Thursday’s short prologue stage before entering the desert for five days of racing designed to push competitors and their machines to the absolute limit.
Reigning Dakar champion Sam Sunderland (GBR) will be racing the new look KTM 450 Rally bike for the first time (see image above). Sunderland finished as runner-up at the previous edition of Rallye du Maroc but the sand racing specialist has victory on his mind this time.
“We’re here with a new bike that we have been testing a lot and now we get to see how we go with it in a race. It’s so important that you get the chance to try out new pieces of kit in a race environment rather than just preparing things in testing.” – Sam Sunderland
The latest Red Bull KTM Factory Team machine will also be ridden by Matthias Walkner (AUT)and Antoine Méo (FRA) in Morocco. This trio will be joined in South America next year by team-mate Toby Price (AUS) as they look to secure a 17th consecutive Dakar win for KTM.
We’ll also be keeping a keen eye out for India’s CS Santosh who will ride in Morocco with the Hero MotoSports Team. Ever since completing his Dakar debut despite suffering broken bones along the way, Santosh has been marked out as one to watch.
Nasser Al-Attiyah #300: “I’m looking forward to racing in Morocco and another important step towards winning the FIA Cross-Country World Championship. Heading into the race we need six points to take the title so it’s not essential that we win, but that is still the result we always push for. We are currently doing a lot of testing of the car we will take to the next Dakar Rally. This is the last big race we have for testing so we need to make sure we’re ready for the challenges ahead.”
Carlos Sainz #310: “I’m proud to be taking part in this rally with Peugeot. Team Peugeot Total has done great work this year. I know the Rallye du Maroc quite well. It’s an event I enjoy but I have yet to win it. We came close last year but we were delayed by a navigation problem. We will need to stay focused this time. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the PEUGEOT 3008 DKR which is one of the very best cross-country rally cars I have ever driven.”
Sébastien Loeb #312: “Daniel (Elena) and I are both really looking forward to getting back in the PEUGEOT 3008 DKR competitively after two successful tests since the Silk Way Rally. We feel we’ve got unfinished business to complete after our visit to China earlier this summer. We were on the pace, while Daniel did a tremendous job on the navigation side and we were leading by an hour when our hopes of victory were ruined by a small error. We intend to continue on our momentum on the Rallye du Maroc which was my first cross-country rally in 2015. In the two years since then, I think it’s fair to say we have covered a great deal of ground and made good progress together. We now need to convert that into victory!”
Sam Sunderland #2: “This is always an important time of the year because we’re coming towards the Dakar which is always the biggest goal for us. We’re here with a new bike that we have been testing a lot and now we get to see how we go with it in a race. It’s so important that you get the chance to try out new pieces of kit in a race environment rather than just preparing things in testing.”
Antonie Meo #8: “I’m targeting the finish line at this face and want to come through it with as few problems as possible. I’m looking forward to the chance to work on my navigation. I have been coming back from injury this year and I’m only ready to get back on the bike now. I’m not going to be at 100 percent in Morocco but I’ll still be doing my bit for the team as we prepare the bike for the next Dakar.”