MOTORSPORT NEWS OFF ROAD

Morocco Rally: Alonso set for first competition in the dunes

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso is all set for his first competitive outing in the dunes in Morocco, for the fifth and final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country series to be held from October 3 to 9. Alonso will be seen behind the wheels of one of the eight Hiluxes to be fielded by Overdrive Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing Team South Africa.

The Spaniard, who is looking to make his Dakar Rally debut in January had tested the Hilux in a non competnon-competitive outing in Lichtenburg 400, fifth round of the SA Cross Country off-road racing series, in the North West Province of South Africa. He had also sough the help of ace Qatari driver and three-time Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Attiyah to fine-tune his preparation for the most gruelling off-road races of all tim

In Morocco, Alonso , who had also tested the car in Poland and Qatar, will be relying heavily on the experience of his co-driver Marc Coma for a first real taste of competition in the dunes. Coma was a five-time winner of the Dakar Rally on two wheels and was, until recently, working with the ASO to organise the route for the Dakar Rally

Also in the fray is Al Attiyah, who has a nine-point lead over Dakar legend and three-time Morocco winner Stephane Peterhansel in the FIA championship which is all set for a final event showdown. Four of the Hiluxes in the demanding five-day desert finale to the FIA World Cup will feature Toyota Gazoo Racing branding. Advantage Al Attiyah Al Attiyah teams up with French co-driver Matthieu Baumel to head the entry, the Qatari knowing that outright victory would give him the FIA World Cup title for the fifth time since his maiden success in 2008.

So far this season, Al Attiyah has taken wins in Qatar and Kazakhstan, but did not take part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Four further Toyotas have been entered by Overdrive Racing with several customers also running the V8-engined machines.

Pre-rally formalities will take place in the town of Fes before the start podium on October 4 at the Fes stadium. The event then transfers to the desert with the opening leg on October 5 offering two selective sections of 103.46km and 225.70km en route to the bivouac in Erfoud.The final selective section of 168.47km passes between Erfoud and the finish in Fes on October 9.

Source: MyKhel