The final round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship runs October 4-9 with the championsip all to play for at the last major event before the big one, the 2019 Dakar Rally.
The major teams are out in force with KTM, Husqvarna, Honda and Yamaha running close to strong squads as riders use the five-day Moroccan Rally as serious preparations for Dakar. The Rally of Morocco is also round five of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and will see the 2018 champion crowned.
2018 title up for grabs
On paper, six riders are still in the running for the world title with Pablo Quintanilla, reigning champion, sitting atop the tables. Quintanilla has 69 points to Toby Price’s 61 and Paulo Gonçalves in third on 57. With 30 points for the win, 25 for second and 23 for third there is no room for a poor result from any one of the leading riders.
Kevin Benavides is fourth with 53, Matthias Walkner has 51 pts and Junior rider Maciej Giemza has 42 after his win at round two in Qatar, which the major riders did not contest.
Chilean rider Quintanilla can count on his Rockstar Husqvarna Factory Racing team-mate Andrew Short for support in the attempt at his third straight world title.
The formidable force of Red Bull Factory KTM Racing has five riders racing in Morocco. Toby Price sits alongside 2018 Dakar winner, Matthias Walkner, 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland (returning after fracturing his foot in Chile), Junior rider Luciano Benavides and newcomer Mario Patrao.
The Monster Energy Honda Team has seen victories this season for Kevin Benavides at the Atacama Rally and Paulo Gonçalves at Desafio Ruta 40. Veteran Goncalves is only 12 points behind Quintanilla, the Benavides just 16 making both potential champions. Anything can happen in rally as we know. Joan Barreda remains absent after yet another crash where he fractured his wrist in Chile, but the American Ricky Brabec and Junior rider Ignacio Cornejo will look for strong results.
The Yamaha Official Yamalube Rally Team will also be present in full with Adrien Van Beveren, Xavier de Soultrait and Franco Caimi lined-up. None of the Yamaha riders are running for the title due to injuries carried over from earlier in 2018 but with this the last big, multi-day event before Dkar 2019, the team will surely want strong results.
David Casteu and Team Sherco TVS Rally Factory have recruited the Metge brothers, Michael and Adrien, as well as Lorenzo Santolino. They’re joined by a new Indian pilot Noah Harite.
Team KTM Orlen aims to defend the title of best Junior with Maciej Giemza, who led the championship for four months, and Adam Tomiczek.
World Championship standings ahead of Morocco:
Rallye of Morocco 2018 daily schedule:
In total, 39 FIM Bike riders will the start the Rally of Morocco. From Fes to Erfoud and back to Fes, riders will cross 1,937 kilometres in North African countryside. 1,255km of that will be special stage with 682km of liaison.
Follow the race live: rallyemaroc.comPhoto Credit: RallyZone
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org