The five-day Rallye du Maroc kicks off this October 4 with a new coloured road book system and the second place in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship to be decided.
Held close to the Saharan town of Erfoud, the Rallye du Maroc will be the last round of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The riders will cover 2,506 kilometres including 1,868 kilometres of timed specials over five days of racing in what will be for many the last real shake-down before the 2020 Dakar Rally.
Starting and finishing in the city of Fez, the majority of the event will be held on looped stages around to Erfoud including two marathon stages where riders will have to take care of their bikes and fresh tyres are not allowed.
With 62 riders lining up at the start and all the major teams – Honda, KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha, Hero Motorsport and Sherco TVS – it will be the last race test before heading to the unknown in Saudi Arabia.
Second place in Rallies World Championship decider
The world championship title was awarded to Sam Sunderland at the previous round of the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Atacama Rally. Second place is still up for grabs however with seven points separating the riders from second to fourth, the battle to clinch the runner up position will be hot.
Despite not having his best ride in Chile, Andrew Short still maintains the second place in the standings by just one point over Kevin Benavides. His brother Luciano is also close in fourth.
“I’m super excited for Morocco – it’s a big race for me because I’m second in the championship but only by one point over Kevin Benavides,” admitted Short.
“I had a few issues at rounds one and three but overcame them to get good results. The Silk Way Rally went really well and was really encouraging for me, so I’m planning on carrying this momentum through Morocco and into winter testing. Hopefully everything goes to plan and I can wrap up the championship as runner-up.”
Luciano Benavides’s priority will be maintaining the lead in the Junior World Championship but that won’t stop him from aiming for a podium finish in the overall if things go well.
“My main goal is to earn enough points to win the Junior Championship but I’m also hoping to finish on the podium in the overall. If I ride a good, strong race I believe I can do it. I’ve put in a lot of training and preparation for this round so hopefully it all pays off,” says Luciano.
New road book system
In order to limit the preparation and to bring rally racing closer to its roots the organization will use the new coloured road book system in two stages of the Morocco Rally.
This will happen during stages three and four where the road book will be handed to the riders 15 minutes before the departure of the first competitor – so no overnight studying of tracks and no chance to preview the stage ahead which means a more level playing field. This is the same road book that was available in colour in 2018 but for this edition it has been improved by David Castera, director of the rally, who also points out the significance of limiting the aid of GPS systems.
“Rally raid is a mixture of navigation, endurance and speed. With the arrival of GPS in 1993, speed became prominent. The GPS has become a navigation aid that organisers can struggle to control. I want to go back to the time before GPS. The only means of navigation should be the road book, the GPS should only be a way for the organisers to check, not an aid to competitors,” says Castera.
The riders also seem happy with the new measures as it will make being a good navigator key to contest for the win.
“I’m looking forward to is the new road book,” says Short. “This will be the first race with a coloured road book, pre-painted by the organisation. On certain stages they’re just going to hand us the road book so navigation is going to be super-important and that should fit into my strengths quite well.”
Rally du Maroc Schedule:
4/10/19 – Prologue – Fes – 7.3km
5/10/19 – Stage 1 – Fes-Erfoud – 483km
6/10/19 – Stage 2 – Erfoud-Erfoud – 540km
7/10/19 – Sage 3 – Erfoud-Erfoud – 533km
8/10/19 – Stage 4 – Erfoud-Erfoud – 456km
9/10/19 – Stage 5 – Erfoud-Fes – 494km
More information: rallyemaroc.comPhoto Credit: RallyZone Igor AguadoEnduro21 Junior Editorigor.firstname.lastname@example.org