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.