Rallye du Maroc Road Book -D1, back in style !

Rallye du Maroc Road Book -D1, back in style !

07.10.2021: After three editions starting from Fez, the Rallye du Maroc returns to Zagora, as in 2014. Strategically located between the Kingdom's two largest ergs, which the rally will explore on three of the stages, the emphasis on the 2021 edition will above all b

After three editions starting from Fez, the Rallye du Maroc returns to Zagora, as in 2014. Strategically located between the Kingdom's two largest ergs, which the rally will explore on three of the stages, the emphasis on the 2021 edition will above all be sand.

A dress rehearsal for the pros, a warm up for the contenders, a shake down for the teams, it has been concocted for all of them by David Castera with a deliberate taste of Dakar. The biggest caravan of the discipline since last January has already arrived at the bivouac to go through the usual checks.

Tomorrow afternoon the race will kick off with the first 10 km timed section that will determine the start order for the race.


It is not only the Province of Zagora’s reputation for hospitability that encouraged David Castera to base "his" third edition here. It was, by his own admission, the only way to reconcile a cloverleaf course dictated by the Covid pandemic with his desire to offer competitors the opportunity to race in the two most beautiful dune areas in Morocco.

Three sand stages out of five days of racing will each offer between 30 and 40 kilometres of dunes. Unique moments for some of the newcomers, magical for all. From kilometre 90 of stage 1, the competitors will plunge into the Chegaga Erg.

They will return there on the last day of the race, which will be far from a mere formality... On stage 2, the caravan will cross the Chebbi Erg and the highest dunes of the Kingdom after a long morning liaison. A ‘Dakar style’ stage to use the words of the architect of both the Rally du Maroc and the Dakar, who has made it a point of honour to create a varied route that avoids the roughest tracks.

The professional competitors and teams didn’t hesitate to sign up. In the motorcycle category, for the first time since last January, all the factory riders, without exception, will be at the start!

In the cars, while some teams have preferred to stay out of the spotlight until the Dakar, the battle is expected to rage between the Toyotas of Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing), the event record holder with five victories and Yazeed Al Rahji (Overdrive) and the X-Raid Minis.

Erik Van Loon will be debuting the brand new, T1+ compliant Hilux Overdrive while three 2022 T3s will inaugurate their new category. The final version of the electronic car road book that will be used in the 2022 Dakar will also be rolled out here in Morocco, with simple pdf readers being replaced by tablets that the co-drivers will be able to get acquainted with prior to next January's event. Finally, 6 trucks will compete in their own category.

Behind the pros, the amateur categories are packed out! In the motorcycle category there are 88 entries in Rally2 and 27 bikes and quads in the Enduro Cup Afriquia class. In addition there will be 25 T4s in the class and 13 in the T3 !

Easy access for competitors and reasonable costs, combined with top flight organisation are the keys to the Rallye du Maroc’s success. In the motorcycle category, nearly half of the riders in the Rally2 category are candidates for the next Dakar and hope to leave with authorisation to realise their dream next January.

To this end they will once again be accompanied by Cyril Despres (see The Rallye du Maroc and Me), coach of the Road to Dakar Challenge set up by ASO. Others will already be living their dream, that of participating at home, alongside the best competitors in the discipline. The growing number of Moroccan competitors sees another record broken (see Radio Bivouac).


Nine Moroccan competitors will be competing on this edition thanks to support from partners Afriquia, Maroc Telecom, OCP and the Rallye du Maroc. Currently enjoying financial backing, these up-and-coming Moroccan racers will in the near future receive support from an academy charged with training competitors from the African continent.

Represented in almost all the categories, two women will be in the spotlight with Souad Mouktadiri racing in ‘Open Auto’ and her former co-driver Firdaouss Al Fannane in the SSV Open Maroc Telecom category. Rachid and Kacem Hamsas are also in Open Auto, while Mustafa Arrahmani is entered aboard his quad.

On two wheels, Ali Oukerbouch and Aoulad Ali Mohamedsaid will join three times Dakar veteran Harite Gabari in the Rally2 class while Amine Echiguer will be the only representative in the Enduro Cup Afriquia class. An experienced moto-x and enduro competitor, he makes his rally-raid debut in the colours of OPC with legitimate ambitions. Trek salama to all!

STAT OF THE DAY : 70,000

70,000 m2 is the total surface area of the bivouac on the outskirts of Zagora. It took 300 people over two weeks to install the 4,000 metres of electric cable, 3,300 carpets and 2600 metres of pipes needed to bring comfort to 520 tents. During the rally, 150 locals will be employed full time, with 3000 meals being served per day.


Where ?

"Ouarzazate. After my 2000 Dakar on a Challenge 75 400 XR, I had a little bit of money left over and Honda had just released their XR 650. It was capable of competing with the BMWs and KTMs that were the bikes to beat back in the day.”

When ?

"In 2000. Neveu and Pelletier, had enjoyed considerable success with the Rallye Tunisie and so decided to create the Rallye du of Maroc.”

How ?

"Not all the factory riders were present and so I managed to take the win. It was my first rally-raid victory. That was 21 years ago! It was my first time in Morocco, so quite a surprise. The bike was a lot quicker than my Dakar 400.”


David Castera
: "This edition will be a scaled down version of what awaits 2022 Dakar competitors. I always try to give the Rallye du Maroc a similar profile to the upcoming Dakar. There will be a lot of dunes on the next Dakar, so I have tried to replicate that here to give competitors a taste of what awaits them in Saudi Arabia. In a week's time, they will know where they stand with their preparation.”

David Castera
: "Cyril Despres was a privateer before becoming a factory rider and car driver. He inherited the spirit of rally-raid from the likes of Meoni and Sainct and was deeply affected by their tragic destinies. He is a natural teacher.

I saw him in Andalusia and really liked his approach. He is the perfect person to explain the discipline to newcomers and help them successfully negotiate their Dakar. When you want to climb Everest, first you have to scale Mont Blanc. But even if you’ve climbed Mont Blanc, it doesn't necessarily mean you are ready for Everest. It is however a compulsory step.”

Cyril Despres :
"It seems quite normal to me to try to give back to rally-raid everything it has given me and that's why I have once again accepted David Castera's invitation. Over the next few days I will try and transmit a little bit of my experience to competitors who dream of going to Dakar. When I started I would have liked a top rider to give me some advice.

There are some pitfalls when you dive into a race like the Rallye du Maroc. I will try to help newcomers avoid them but also to allow them to perform as well as possible. I'm very happy to be here as a visitor to share my passion.”


Super Special / Qualifying Stage : 8 km

Matthieu Perez  Photo: © DPPI – Frédéric Le Floc’h

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/rallye-du-maroc-road-book-d1-back-style---229589.html

07.10.2021 / MaP

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