Toby Price leads the 2019 Rally du Maroc at midway point after a dramatic marathon stage delivers tricky navigation and shredded tyres – Sam Sunderland retires injured after crashing on day two.
As the 2019 Rally du Maroc hits its midway point after stage three, Toby Price claimed the day win and with it command of the overall standings. Marking the second half of the marathon stage, day three was set to be the longest day of the rally but the organizers were forced to cancel the third part of the timed special for safety reasons.
After a tough day two with road book issues for many riders, Price took full advantage of his starting position on day three and chased down the riders ahead. When the stage was cut short the Australian Dakar champion lead overall on corrected time.
“The stage went well for me today.” Said Price. “There were a couple of sections that were quite tricky and I didn’t quite catch them at the right point to make up time on the guys in front. Even so, we were able to close the gap a little and I felt good all day. The roles will be reversed again for tomorrow so the other guys will be chasing us down again but that’s just rallying.”
Following his own stage two difficulties, Matthias Walkner followed suit to finish runner-up to his teammate on day three and with it take second in the standings. It was a copy book story for Yamaha’s Franco Caimi who finished third and occupies the same spot in the overall.
Three days, three different leaders
In three stages three different riders have lead overall: Sam Sunderland, Joan Barreda and Toby Price all taken turns with the first two taking dramatic changes in fortune.
Sunderland came into the Morocco rally with the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship claimed and with it the pressure lifted from his shoulders. Fastest in the prologue and then again on the first stage, Sam was the early rally leader.
Sam Sunderland crashes out
While opening the second stage however, Sunderland suffered a crash injuring his elbow in the process. The KTM rider reached the next refuelling point but increasing pain in his elbow forced him to retire.
Mixed fortunes for Barreda
Sunderland’s crash opened the way for HRC Rally rider Joan Barreda to take over the lead on the first of the two marathon stage days. But the second day of marathon racing means no fresh tyres and the Spaniard suffered for his previous day’s speed as his rear tyre and mousse broke up leaving him to limp home in 16th.
Aubert playing it cool in his first rally for Sherco
The freshly signed Sherco Rally Team rider and multi-time enduro champion, Johnny Aubert took it easier on his tyres and came home fourth slightly over four minutes behind Price after a solid day – the Frenchman lies 14th overall, albeit over 40 minutes down on the lead.
Tomorrow’s fourth stage, the penultimate of the event, leads the riders on a 508.3 kilometres looped route close to Erfoud which includes a healthy 408.53 kilometres of timed special.
Provisional standings after stage 3:
- Toby Price (KTM) 11:57,39
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) +4,06
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) +6,40
- Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) +6,41
- Luciano Benavides (KTM) +7,52
- Joan Barreda (Honda) +7,54
- Andrew Short (Husqvarna) +9,05
- Ricky Brabec (Honda) +11,43
- Ross Evan Branch (KTM) +14,53
- Daniel Nosiglia (Honda) +21,29
More information: rallyemaroc.comPhoto Credit: Marcin Kin + Rally Zone Igor AguadoEnduro21 Junior Editorigor.firstname.lastname@example.org