ROAD BOOK – D-7
OPENING BACK UP THE GATES OF THE DESERT
With the 2020 edition cancelled due to the global pandemic, it has been two years since the Rallye du Maroc has been held in the Kingdom of His Majesty Mohammed VI. From 7 to 13 October, housed in a majestic bivouac outside Zagora, the race returns to the desert. Hand in hand, the Moroccan authorities, ODC Events and their local partners have put all their energy into making the running of the rally possible. As a reward for their considerable efforts, a record number of participants are preparing to celebrate the reopening of the Moroccan desert !
Made possible by the Moroccans
Held up as an example, both on their own continent and beyond and praised by the WHO, Morocco’s management of the Covid-19 health crisis (see Radio bivouac) enabled David Castera’s team to envisage holding the 2021 edition. In return the organisers have had to put in place stringent protocols to guarantee the health and safety of the inhabitants of Morocco, the competitors and their own staff. To this end, a route in the form of loops running from a central secure bivouac has been created. All the competitors, their entourage and the organisation staff will have to prove they have been double vaccinated and tested to be able to enter the bivouac and take part in the competition. An ‘obvious’ logistical choice on paper, an almost unimageable undertaking on this scale anywhere else but Morocco (see Stat of the Day). “Ending this two-year hiatus is both a huge relief and a tribute to Moroccan ingenuity, because they are the ones who have made it all possible,” concedes the event’s architect David Castera: “Each year, the Rallye du Maroc takes on ever more importance in the country. It is no longer simply a case of us organising an event on our own, with permission from the Moroccan authorities. The Rallye du Maroc is now the fruit of a common enterprise, the will and help of the authorities, partners such as Maroc Telecom, Afriquia or OCP, and the tourism industry, right down to the small businesses and service providers who are close to us on the ground, happy and proud to be working again. A strong relationship between us has been forged in this very special context. This edition will be one of resilience for us all.”
A record number of participants
As a reward for the efforts made over the last few weeks by all involved in resurrecting the Rallye du Maroc, the number of entrants expected at administrative and technical scrutineering on Thursday 7 October will break all records! 160 bikes (+100%) and 100 cars (+35%) are expected to arrive at the bivouac in Zagora next week. These figures are no coincidence. In the space of a year, David Castera and A.S.O. have together announced and honoured their commitment to 4 international rally-raids. The creation of the Andalucía Rally in October 2020, the Dakar in January 2021, the second edition in Andalucía last May and finally, next week, the 2021 Rallye du Maroc. A tour de force that has been achieved without compromising either the quality of the organisation or the level of safety. No less than four helicopters will be dedicated to medical cover next week. No other rally in Morocco can boast such a commitment to its participants. A bond of trust that will see, in a few days’ time, the return of the biggest rally-raid organised in Morocco, the driving-force of a discipline that provides employment to the country’s desert regions. A powerful symbol also of the reopening of the Kingdom of His Majesty Mohammed VI, so eagerly awaited by visitors from around the world and the local population alike.
Much praised for their proactive management of the health pandemic, in particular for an exemplary and rapidly implemented vaccination campaign, Morocco was able to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus very early on and thus mitigate its socio-economic impact. The objective of the national campaign is to immunise 30 million individuals, approximately 80% of the 36 million Moroccans, with the aim of achieving collective immunity this autumn. Today, over 19 million Moroccans have received two jabs and nearly 23 million their first dose, i.e. about 50% of the vaccination campaign. There have been 22 cases per 100,000 people over the past 7 days (compared with 57 cases per 100,000 in France over the same period). The Drâa-Tafilalet region, where the 2021 Rallye du Maroc will be held, is one of the least affected regions in the Kingdom, with just 3.24% of cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
STAT OF THE DAY: 850
Between the competitors, their entourage and the organisation, the 2021 Rallye du Maroc caravan will number 850 people, housed for almost ten days in the ephemeral bivouac of Zagora. “If I had asked for such a bivouac in France or anywhere else in the world, people would have thought I was insane,” commented David Castera, a man who knows about logistics, but who does not cease to be amazed: “The know-how of the nomads and their capacity to adapt is phenomenal. Nothing is impossible, the answer to every question is always ‘machi moushkil’, literally ‘no problem’. And they always manage to pull it off, sometimes really incredible feats.”
David Castera: “The Rallye du Maroc no longer simply bears the name of a country, but that of its people, who share with us the values of solidarity and pushing one’s limits that have always been intrinsic to rally-raid.”
RALLYE DU MAROC 2021 PROGRAMME
- Thursday 7 and Friday 8 October morning: administrative checks and tecnhnical scrutineering
- Friday 8 October afternoon: Super Special (FIM) / Qualifying Stage (FIA)
- From Saturday 9 to Wednesday 13 October: stages 1 to 5
- Wednesday 13 October evening: prizegiving