Offroad Superstars Come To Race Dunes At Rallye du Maroc
(clockwise) Lucas Cruz/Carlos Sainz with Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sam Sunderland © Flavien Duhamel/Vytautas Dranginis/Edoardo Bauer/Red Bull Content Pool
Thursday, October 3
The best rally-raid racers on the planet have come to North Africa for the 20th edition of Rallye du Maroc. With 2,500 kilometres of desert terrain spread across five stages, this is the final tune-up before the 2020 Dakar Rally takes place in Saudi Arabia.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) will be chasing the win in Morocco. Not only are they aiming to defend their Dakar car race title in January 2020, but also have their sights set on winning the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The Toyota duo currently lead the standings going into the championship’s final round. If they can get the job done it will give Al-Attiyah his fifth World Cup win, a fourth alongside Baumel.
“Morocco is one of my favourite rallies and it takes on even more importance this time. This rally will decide the FIA World Cup and a season of work, while we also carry out a big desert test with the cars for the Dakar Rally.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah and Baumel’s closest rivals for World Cup glory are the husband and wife team of Stéphane (FRA) and Andrea Peterhansel (GER). During their first full season of racing rally-raid together the Peterhansels have enjoyed remarkable success, including a win at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. They will be hoping their further-developed MINI John Cooper Works Buggy can help them come up trumps in Morocco as well.
“Rallye du Maroc is always a really beautiful race. I haven’t done the race too many times, but whenever I go there I have a good time. It’s a good mix of terrain, with plenty of dunes.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel are joined at Rallye du Maroc by X-raid team-mates Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP) as well as Kuba Przygoński (POL). The world-class field of car competitors looking to conquer the dunes also includes Toyota Hilux drivers Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) and rally-raid rookie Fernando Alonso (ESP).
Over in the bike race there’s plenty of expectation on the Red Bull KTM Factory Team to take first place in Morocco. The team continues to prepare their tactics for the 2020 Dakar and an attempt at an unprecedented 19th consecutive victory at rally-raid’s most prestigious event.
Sam Sunderland (GBR) has already secured this season’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title thanks to race wins at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Silk Way Rally.
“I’m so happy to win the world championship – I couldn’t have done it without my KTM team. I have come so close in the past having finished as runner-up twice in 2015 and 2016, but this title makes all the hard work worth it.” – Sam Sunderland
Sunderland’s team-mates Toby Price (AUS), Matthias Walkner (AUT), Luciano Benavides (ARG)and Laia Sanz (ESP) are also showing great form ahead of Rallye du Maroc. Price and Walkner both made their comebacks from injury at last month’s Rally Atacama. Meanwhile, Benavides and Sanz are chasing down the Junior and Women’s World Championship titles respectively.
“I know I still need to do a little work on my wrist – it’s not quite right yet, but the plan is to be in better shape for Morocco and then training in Spain before we gear up for the Dakar in Saudi Arabia next year.” – Toby Price
The Rallye du Maroc action gets started with a prologue stage on Friday, October 4 before five punishing offroad stages, finishing in Fes on Wednesday, October 9.