Offroad superstars come to race dunes at Rallye du Maroc

Courtesy of Red Bull Desert Wings

(clockwise) Lucas Cruz/Carlos Sainz with Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sam Sunderland © Flavien Duhamel/Vytautas Dranginis/Edoardo Bauer/Red Bull Content Pool

Thursday, October 3

The best rally-raid racers on the planet have come to North Africa for the 20th edition of Rallye du Maroc. With 2,500 kilometres of desert terrain spread across five stages, this is the final tune-up before the 2020 Dakar Rally takes place in Saudi Arabia.

Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) will be chasing the win in Morocco. Not only are they aiming to defend their Dakar car race title in January 2020, but also have their sights set on winning the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The Toyota duo currently lead the standings going into the championship’s final round. If they can get the job done it will give Al-Attiyah his fifth World Cup win, a fourth alongside Baumel.

“Morocco is one of my favourite rallies and it takes on even more importance this time. This rally will decide the FIA World Cup and a season of work, while we also carry out a big desert test with the cars for the Dakar Rally.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

Al-Attiyah and Baumel’s closest rivals for World Cup glory are the husband and wife team of Stéphane (FRA) and Andrea Peterhansel (GER). During their first full season of racing rally-raid together the Peterhansels have enjoyed remarkable success, including a win at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. They will be hoping their further-developed MINI John Cooper Works Buggy can help them come up trumps in Morocco as well.

“Rallye du Maroc is always a really beautiful race. I haven’t done the race too many times, but whenever I go there I have a good time. It’s a good mix of terrain, with plenty of dunes.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel are joined at Rallye du Maroc by X-raid team-mates Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP) as well as Kuba Przygoński (POL). The world-class field of car competitors looking to conquer the dunes also includes Toyota Hilux drivers Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) and rally-raid rookie Fernando Alonso (ESP).

Over in the bike race there’s plenty of expectation on the Red Bull KTM Factory Team to take first place in Morocco. The team continues to prepare their tactics for the 2020 Dakar and an attempt at an unprecedented 19th consecutive victory at rally-raid’s most prestigious event.

Sam Sunderland (GBR) has already secured this season’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title thanks to race wins at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Silk Way Rally.

“I’m so happy to win the world championship – I couldn’t have done it without my KTM team. I have come so close in the past having finished as runner-up twice in 2015 and 2016, but this title makes all the hard work worth it.” – Sam Sunderland

Sunderland’s team-mates Toby Price (AUS), Matthias Walkner (AUT), Luciano Benavides (ARG) and Laia Sanz (ESP) are also showing great form ahead of Rallye du Maroc. Price and Walkner both made their comebacks from injury at last month’s Rally Atacama. Meanwhile, Benavides and Sanz are chasing down the Junior and Women’s World Championship titles respectively.

“I know I still need to do a little work on my wrist – it’s not quite right yet, but the plan is to be in better shape for Morocco and then training in Spain before we gear up for the Dakar in Saudi Arabia next year.” – Toby Price

The Rallye du Maroc action gets started with a prologue stage on Friday, October 4 before five punishing offroad stages, finishing in Fes on Wednesday, October 9.

Keep up-to-date with the entire Red Bull Desert Wings convoy on Red Bull Motorsports’ social media: Red Bull Motorsport Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Desert Wings Instagram

Quotes

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Morocco is one of my favourite rallies and it takes on even more importance this time. This rally will decide the FIA World Cup and a season of work, while we also carry out a big desert test with the cars for the Dakar Rally.”

Stéphane Peterhansel: “Rallye du Maroc is always a really beautiful race. I haven’t done the race too many times, but whenever I go there I have a good time. It’s a good mix of terrain, with plenty of dunes. We still have a chance for the World Cup so we’ll do our best for that. We must make sure we get as much training as we can ahead of the next Dakar.”

Sam Sunderland: “I’m so happy to win the world championship – I couldn’t have done it without my KTM team. I have come so close in the past having finished as runner-up twice in 2015 and 2016, but this title makes all the hard work worth it.”

Toby Price: “I know I still need to do a little work on my wrist – it’s not quite right yet, but the plan is to be in better shape for Morocco and then training in Spain before we gear up for the Dakar in Saudi Arabia next year.”

Matthias Walkner: “I’m really looking forward to racing Morocco. It felt great to be back on the bike at the last round, but it took me a while to get back up to speed, especially on the super-fast pistes. The terrain in the Sahara should be quite similar to Saudi Arabia so it will give us a good chance to work on our set-up. The goal is to get some good time on the bike and make it to the finish healthy.”

Laia Sanz: “Because I’ve not ridden all the rounds of the championship, the focus at the Rally du Maroc is to ride a safe race and do some good preparation for Dakar. Of course, when you put your helmet on things change and you want to get your very best result but really the goal is to concentrate on training. It will be good to spend time with the whole team and hopefully we can continue to find good settings on the bike for the best possible start next year.”

Luciano Benavides: “This is the first race of the season that I’ve done before, so I’m hoping to feel comfortable straight away with the nature of the rally and the terrain. My main goal is to earn enough points to win the Junior Championship – this has been the target since the beginning of the season – but I’m also hoping to finish on the podium in the overall.”

Watch 26 minutes of highlights from the 2019 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge here

… and highlights from the 2019 Rally Kazakhstan here

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