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Desert Race 1000 2023: Tough Desert Race tests TGRSA crews

  • 3rd overall for Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle
  • 4th overall for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • Excellent performance by Saood Variawa and Danie Stassen on SARRC debut Manufacturers’ Award for Toyota

The 2023 TGRSA 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race brought an exciting weekend of racing, with the hosts falling foul to the so-called “sponsor’s curse”, which saw the Ford team finish first and second overall. This, despite a spirited battle on the sandy tracks surrounding the town of Jwaneng in southern Botswana, which served as a base for the race for the first time since 2018.

By the time the dust finally settled and the scores tallied, it was Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle who emerged as the leading TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA (TGRSA) crew. The pair brought their GR DKR Hilux T1+ home in third place overall, trailing the winners by just over 8min after 1,000km of racing. They were followed to the finish by Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, who clocked in 17min behind their teammates in an identical car.

The biggest revelation of the weekend, however, was undeniably the blistering pace of young Saood Variawa, driving in his first round of the South African Rally-Raid Series (SARRC). The youngster was partnered with experienced co-driver, Danie Stassen, and the pair set about their business as if they’d been campaigning together for years. Variawa is only 17 years of age, and also leads the Global Touring Cars (GTC) championship for TGRSA.

He had previously raced in two regional cross-country events, but this was his first appearance in the big leagues, and despite his youth, young Variawa – son of Shameer Variawa, who had himself triumphed at the Desert Race years ago – posted the second-fastest time in the Qualifying Race on Friday before the main event. His time was only 2sec slower than pole position, which was set by Lance Woolridge (Ford).

SARRC championship leaders, Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, went third-fastest in qualifying, setting a time 12sec slower than Variawa/Stassen. Botterill/Vacy-Lyle were fourth-fastest, with De Villiers/Murphy setting the 6th-fastest time. This meant that TGRSA as a team were well-poised to attack, but the final draw for starting positions saw De Villiers/Murphy opening the route on Day 2 of the Desert Race.

De Villiers and Murphy set about that tough task early on Saturday morning, but ultimately paid the price as the route was overgrown after four years with no cars racing in the area. Their day became even more challenging, as they struggled with intermittent alternator problems throughout the loop, ultimately finishing the day in 5th position.

Lategan/Cummings initially made up ground on the leaders, taking over at the head of the field and building a lead of nearly 4min after 300km of racing. At this point, a boot protecting one of the drive shafts failed, forcing the crew to stop and remove the damaged part. This cost them significant time, but they still managed to finish the day in 3rd place – just behind the two leading cars.

A similar fate befell Botterill/Vacy-Lyle, but they fought back and managed to recover to 4th place by the end of Day 2. As for Variawa/Stassen, they initially set highly competitive split times, running in 3rd overall after the opening loop of 200km. Unfortunately, the crew suffered three punctures during the second loop, forcing them to wait for a fellow competitor to assist them with a spare tyre, dropping them down to 8th in the overall standings by the time the day drew to a close.

The final day of the race dawned crisp and bright, as the hundreds of thousands of spectators who made the pilgrimage to Jwaneng to watch the race again lined the route. The team had prepared Lategan/Cummings’ car meticulously, working hard to reduce the weight and giving them nothing but a lean, mean fighting machine, in their pursuit for victory.

But it wasn’t to be, despite the crew valiantly fighting their way to the head of the field, only to fall foul to a wheel bearing problem 70km into the first loop of the day. This meant that Botterill/Vacy-Lyle finished as the top TGRSA crew, with De Villiers/Murphy finishing 4th overall.

Variawa/Stassen continued their exceptional pace throughout the day, but early in the final race loop they caught up to a much slower competitor ahead of them on the road. They used the car-to-car buzzer system to alert the crew ahead, but despite the TGRSA crew having moved over for the same competitor earlier in the day, on this occasion they elected to stay ahead of the flying Variawa/Stassen.

The TGRSA crew continued to use the car-to-car system, staying close to the slower car in case an opportunity to pass presented itself. Unfortunately, the choking dust kicked up by the slower car presented a danger in itself, and at one of the road crossings Variawa braked just too late to avoid the car ahead and made contact. While the tough Hilux was able to continue the event and finish in a strong position, Variawa/Stassen were excluded from the results due to the incident.

“This places a damper on an otherwise exceptional weekend for young Saood,” said TGRSA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the race. “His pace and maturity is simply spectacular, and we are looking forward to see how he develops in the future. As for the rest of the team, we are obviously disappointed not to have won our home event, but at the same time we have to congratulate the Ford team on a well-deserved victory.”

The next event on the SARRC calendar is the Parys 400, which serves as both rounds 4 and 5 of the championship. This event is scheduled for 18 and 19 August, and will again take place in the area around the Free State town of Parys. While the points for the Desert Race are still to be ratified by the organisers, the championship situation has changed significantly, and TGRSA will have to work towards banking maximum points come the middle of August.

Source Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa

Desert Race 1000 2023: Dominant Victory for NWM Ford Castrol Team at Punishing 1 000km Botswana Desert Race

  • NWM Ford Castrol Team led all three days of the SA Rally Raid Championship’s Botswana Desert Race, ousting reigning SARRC, Dakar Rally and W2RC champions Toyota
  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) move into Production Vehicle championship lead in EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger after faultless drive to claim the win at tough 1 000km marathon race
  • Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) set the fastest time for Friday’s qualifying loop and finished second overall – their first podium finish together
  • V8-powered NWM Ford Rangers took first and second place in Class T, with Hendrik and Heinrich du Plessis (#T16) finishing a highly commendable 12th overall

The Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol Team scored an emphatic one-two finish in the EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ Ford Rangers at Round 3 of the South African Rally Raid Championship (SARRC), which was held in Jwaneng, Botswana, from 23-25 June 2023.

As the longest and toughest event of the year, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is a three-day marathon event which covers almost 1 000km of racing through semi-arid terrain, characterised by unforgiving thorn bushes and lots of soft sand.

Despite the punishing conditions destroying bodywork on all the competitor cars and pushing the crews to the limit, the pair of NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Rangers ran almost fault-free throughout the weekend. The team wrapped up each of the three days on top of the overall standings to beat arch-rival Toyota – a team that currently holds the SARRC, Dakar Rally and World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) titles.

“This was a perfect weekend for us, and what a fantastic way to follow up our recent announcement that we will be going to Dakar Rally in 2024, in partnership with Ford Performance and M-Sport,” said Neil Woolridge, NWM Ford Castrol team principal. “We’re up against the world’s best rally raid team in the toughest conditions we face in our local championship, so dominating all three days and finishing first and second is an amazing result.

“We’ve been pushing extremely hard to develop our car this year, the team has been training hard and we’ve been practising changing key components like the differential which we swapped out on Lance’s car during the 30-minute service on Sunday due to a small oil leak,Neil says. “Our drivers and navigators didn’t put a foot wrong the whole weekend, and we didn’t even get a single puncture. It’s immensely rewarding to see all of our hard work and long hours paying off with such a great result.”

Lance Woolridge and co-driver Kenny Gilbert (#234) set the wheels in motion for the NWM Ford Castrol squad by topping the timesheets during Friday’s 61km sprint qualifying session, with team-mates Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) placed fifth. A mere 23 seconds separated the top five competitors.


On Saturday the crews faced two loops of a 220km route east of Jwaneng through narrow, tight and twisty tracks lined by punishing thorn bushes and trees that decimated the bodywork of the vehicles, and had the drivers and co-drivers extremely busy for each stage kilometre. Although the cars looked decidedly worse for wear at the end of the day – which resulted in the team working until the early hours of Sunday morning to repair the damage – the pair of Ford Rangers were mechanically sound and had stamped their authority on the proceedings. Gareth and Boyd worked their way into the overnight lead with a margin of 2 min 54 seconds over Lance and Kenny, who were almost four minutes ahead of Toyota’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings.

Two loops of a 214km route west of Jwaneng remained for Sunday’s thrilling action, with more open and faster terrain providing some relief for the competitors, as well as the mechanics. Other than the rear diff replacement due to the minor oil leak on Lance’s car – which was swapped out within the allotted 30-minute service interval – the T1+ Rangers had a hassle-free run to the finish line while many of their rivals faltered with punctures, damage and mechanical issues.

Gareth and Boyd set an astonishing pace and cemented their advantage to claim a confident victory, with their team-mates backing them up and finishing 3 min 42 seconds adrift after more than 11 hours of flat-out racing over the three days.

“We couldn’t have scripted it better,Gareth said. “A one-two for the team at the Desert Race, which is the toughest event of the year, is really special. It’s indicative of all the work we’ve been doing on the car, and we still have several upgrades that will be coming later in the year that we can look forward to.”

There was delight for Lance and Kenny too, as they celebrated finishing second overall to hand the NWM Ford Castrol Team a dominant one-two result, which also secured the pair’s first podium finish together since joining forces for the 2023 SARRC season. They ended 4 min 37 sec ahead of the third-placed Toyota of Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle, and more than 21 minutes ahead of Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy in another Toyota.

“With us winning prologue on Friday, having Gareth and Boyd leading on Saturday, then wrapping it all up with our cars finishing first and second overall is a dream result for the team, Lance said. “I think the last time a brand other than Toyota won the Desert Race was about seven years ago, so to get a one-two today for Ford is amazing.

“We could never have done it without our fantastic team. They worked until 03:30 this morning to fix all the damage from the route conditions, and were up again at 5am to get the cars ready for the day,” Lance said. “So they are the real heroes this weekend.”

NWM privateers

Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) in the NWM-supported privateer T1+ Ford Ranger were among the top contenders during Friday’s qualifying loop, finishing an impressive seventh overall, just over a minute off the leading time set by Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert.

Unfortunately, they were hampered by a driveshaft issue both on Saturday and Sunday, but their qualifying pace was certainly noteworthy and outgunned several of the far more seasoned SARRC competitors.

There were two V8-powered NWM Ford Rangers competing in Class T, and both crews made it to the finish line. Hendrik and Heinrich du Plessis (#T16) took the class win and finished this arduous race in a highly commendable 12th place overall, while Bernard and Minette Johnstone (#T22) joined them on the second step of the podium, having crossed the line 25th overall.

2024 Dakar Rally

Ford Performance is set to expand its global motorsports effort by competing in the legendary Dakar Rally, one of the toughest off-road competitions on Earth.

A purpose-built, race-ready Ford Ranger T1+ will compete in the 2024 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in the Rally Raid T1+ class. Ford Performance is collaborating in a comprehensive test and development program with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport to prepare for what is expected to be an extremely tough challenge come January 2024.


Source NWM Ford Castrol Team

Desert Race 1000 2023: NWM Ford Castrol Team Confident as SARRC Returns to Botswana for Desert Race

  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) currently tied for second place in SARRC T1+ Production Vehicle championship in EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger
  • Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) aiming for strong performance and solid points haul in the second NWM Ford Castrol entry
  • Privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) will be back in action after missing the Sugarbelt 400

The South African Rally Raid Championship (SARRC) will be heading cross-border for the first time since 2019 as the series returns to Botswana for the longest and toughest race of the year – and it’s one that the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol Team is looking forward to.

Over the past three years, the Desert Race has taken place in Upington in the Northern Cape as a result of travel and logistics restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2023, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race (TGR 1000) heads back to the diamond mining town of Jwaneng, which hosted the event for several years before it was moved to Selebi-Phikwe in 2019.

As round three of the 2023 SARRC, the Desert Race takes place from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 June 2023, and is set to once again feature as Botswana’s biggest sporting event of the year. Its unique status as a three-day marathon event sees the action commence on Friday with a short 61km qualifying loop to determine the starting order for the main race. The top 10 competitors then draw their starting positions, with the strategy regarding road position for the opening loop being a key consideration.

On Saturday the competitors will complete two 220km loops to the east of Jwaneng, separated by a mandatory 30-minute service stop at the designated service park (DSP), located at the Jwaneng Sports Complex which also serves as the race headquarters.

Sunday sees the teams tackle two runs through a 214km race loop west of Jwaneng, with a 30-minute service stop in between. The overall times for the weekend will determine the final results.

“The Desert Race is extremely popular in Botswana. We have a loyal and enthusiastic following in the country, and we know the fans are eager to see the SARRC return this year,” says Neil Woolridge, team principal of the NWM Ford Castrol squad.

“We have enjoyed good results at the Desert Race, and our team has been buoyed by last week’s announcement that we will be competing at the 2024 Dakar Rally with our T1+ Ranger, along with Ford Performance and M-Sport. Over the past year, we have conducted a series of in-depth tests with M-Sport to further develop our T1+ Ranger for the Dakar Rally, and our results in the opening rounds of the 2023 season have shown that all of this hard work is paying off,” Woolridge says.

Gareth Woolridge and co-driver Boyd Dreyer are the leading NWM Ford Castrol contenders in their #277 T1+ EcoBoost V6-powered Ranger, having scored back-to-back podium finishes at the season-opening Nkomazi 400 in Malalane and the Sugarbelt 400 in Eston. Accordingly, they are currently tied for second place in the Production Vehicle championship, along with the Toyota crew of Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy.

“Gareth and Boyd are busy with another test session in Morocco currently and will arrive in Botswana on Thursday, having had the benefit of thousands of kilometres of testing over the past couple of months. So they will be very well prepared to go for it the moment the flag drops in Jwaneng,Woolridge says.

Lance Woolridge and co-driver Kenny Gilbert (#234) have had a tough start to their first season together, but have shown impressive pace on several occasions. They are currently eighth overall in the championship, and are aiming to maximize their points haul at this crucial event – especially with the prospect of 45 points up for grabs for the class win, in place of the normal 30 points for the shorter events.

The NWM-supported privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) is eager to get back in the action in their T1+ Ranger after missing the previous round. They are currently 13th overall in the standings, having finished an impressive seventh at the opening round of the season.

Fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the 2023 season’s seven races using the RallySafe app, which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices from the relevant app stores.

2024 Dakar Rally

Ford Performance is set to expand its global motorsports effort by competing in the legendary Dakar Rally, one of the toughest off-road competitions on Earth.

A purpose-built, race-ready Ford Ranger T1+ will compete in the 2024 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in the Rally Raid T1+ class. Ford Performance is collaborating in a comprehensive test and development program with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport to prepare for what is expected to be an extremely tough challenge come January 2024.

# # #

The Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford Castrol Rally-Raid Team is proud to be supported by the following sponsors and partners: Ford Credit, Mastercraft, Würth, Brembo, Motorcraft, Sparco, Tiger Wheel & Tyre, Ironman 4x4, Shatterprufe and Tracking Africa.

# # #

Follow the team’s updates and progress on the following social media channels:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FordPerformanceSA

Source NWM Ford Castrol Team 

Desert Race 1000 2023: A dream shot awaits Dakar hopefuls in Botswana

With the famous ‘Desert Race’ moving back to its long-time home in Botswana 2023, competitors hoping to capitalise on the Dakar ‘dream shot’ will have to make the most of the challenging terrain that marks this event. Officially known as the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Kalahari Botswana 1,000 Desert Race, or TGRSA 1,000 Desert Race for short, the third round of the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) offers arguably the biggest single prize of the year: Free entry to the Dakar Rally.

The TGRSA 1,000 Desert Race has consistently been the longest and toughest motorsport event on the African continent, and as such offers the type of test that is in line with the grueling Dakar Rally itself. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA are again aligning with the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Dakar Rally, to offer Dakar hopefuls the opportunity to win a free entry to the race.

As before, the Road to Dakar, as this initiative is known, is open to all privateers who haven’t previously taken part in the Dakar Rally. The winning competitor can choose to enter the next Dakar or the following one, effectively giving the team a maximum of 18 months to prepare for the race. This means that crews who have previously won the Dakar Challenge or Road to Dakar, but haven’t been able to take up their prize, are eligible to win again in 2023.

In order to further level the playing field for competitors, the organisers of the Dakar Rally have set a rule that both the driver and navigator must be Dakar rookies, neither having taken part in the Dakar Rally before.

Crews hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Road to Dakar winners need to specifically register for the challenge before the start of the TGRSA 1,000 Desert Race. Past winners of the race-within-a-race include Thomas Rundle, Gary Bertholdt, Jason Venter, Hennie de Klerk, Terence Marsh, Jaco van Dyk, Eben Basson and most recently Yannick Panagoitis.

“We are proud to once again host the iconic Desert Race, this time back in Botswana, where the race is one of the biggest sporting events on that country’s calendar,” says Toyota SA Motors Vice-President for Marketing, Glenn Crompton. “Toyota has been an integral part of South-African rally-raid racing for many decades, and our Dakar-winning Hilux T1+ has become a point of pride not only for the company, but for South Africans in general. This year, we are again pleased to offer a rookie crew the opportunity to share in the Dakar dream, by hosting the Road to Dakar in Botswana.”

This year’s TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Kalahari Botswana 1,000 Desert Race will take place on 23-25 June, in the area surrounding the town of Jwaneng in southern Botswana. This area has played host to the race on multiple occasions in the past, though the last time was in 2018, before a move to Selebi Pikwe in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 Desert Race to be cancelled, and the town of Upington, in South Africa’s Northern Cape, hosted in 2021 and 2022, with the race returning to Botswana for 2023.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA, Innovation Group and Toyota Financial Services. Also SV Motorsport, Motus Toyota, SKF, Spanjaard, Mastercraft, Edgecam, Supreme Springs, Shatterprufe, Smith’s Manufacturing, Lumotech and Plan-C Productions.

Follow the fortunes of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA on www.tgrsa.co.za
Twitter: @TGRSouthAfrica
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TGRSouthAfrica
Instagram: tgrsouthafrica

Source Toyota Gazoo Racing SA

Rallye du Maroc 2023: Crossing all the way from west to east

  • At the presentation conference for the 23rd Rallye du Maroc, David Castera revealed the route of the race scheduled to run from 12 to 18 October under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. The route will take in the Kingdom's largest deserts from west to east, starting from the international seaside resort of Agadir and finishing in the famous village of Merzouga via Zagora.
  • A prologue followed by five stages, two of which will be itinerant and three in the form of loops, totalling 2,240 kilometres, including 1,470 kilometres of special stages have been announced. Three consecutive nights will be spent in bivouacs in keeping with the nomadic tradition.
  • The final round of the World Rally-Raid Championship, the Moroccan leg will be decisive for the outcome of the season. An exceptional prize-giving ceremony will be held on the evening of the finish in the magical setting of the Merzouga dunes.
  • The final event before 2024, the Rallye du Maroc will also be a dress rehearsal for the Dakar for both amateurs and professionals alike.
  • As well as sport, the Rallye du Maroc will be sharing its route with all Moroccans. In Agadir, a concert in the town centre will accompany the start of the race. In Zagora, a school sports ground will be inaugurated. In the countryside the Medical Caravane will continue previous health initiatives.

Immersed in the heart of the great Moroccan deserts:

It was at the Marriott Hotel in Casablanca, in the presence of the representatives from Royal Moroccan automobile and motorcycle federations, the representatives from main sponsors of the Rally, Afriquia, Maroc Telecom, OCP and numerous Moroccan competitors, that on 20 June David Castera unveiled the details of the next edition of the Rallye du Maroc. The final round of the 2023 FIA and FIM World Rally-Raid Championship will gather at the Grand Stade Adrar in Agadir, as it did last year, for the traditional administrative and technical scrutineering from the afternoon of October 11. The racing will start with the Prologue on 13 October not far from the capital of Souss Massa. A podium will be set up in the town centre so that locals and tourists alike will be able to take advantage of the parade and get close to the stars of the sport and amateurs alike.

The following day, the competitors will set off on the first stage between Agadir and Zagora, featuring a stretch of dunes, before the competitors settle into a three-night bivouac on the outskirts of Zagora. Stages 2 and 3 will be run in loops around this encampment.

Stage 2 will feature the Chegaga Erg, the Kingdom's most extensive dune massif. On this occasion, the FIM and FIA routes will be separated. A guarantee of greater safety and enjoyment for the motorcycle competitors, but also synonymous with a challenge for the car navigators who will be opening the track without the benefit of the tracks usually left by the bikes and quads.

Stage 3 will be the only one without dunes to cross. But the technical nature of the stage and the navigation will be major challenges. There’s no rest day on the Rallye du Maroc!

However, you'll need to catch your breath on reaching the halfway point, as David Castera has announced: "Stage 4 between Zagora and Merzouga will be the toughest, most challenging stage of this year's rally. Firstly, in terms of time spent racing against the clock, but also because of the variety of terrain: fast tracks, tricky navigation, camel grass and dune crossings. This will be the most demanding stage, where the most accomplished competitors will take the limelight."

The final stage, a loop around Merzouga, will be another opportunity for competitors to confront the dunes of Erg Chebbi, the highest in Morocco, at the foot of which will be celebrated the finish. An atypical finale, as the race will not end on a red carpet in a big city, as the discipline is wont to do, but in a natural environment, a magical setting for an extraordinary evening.

The 2023 final and tomorrow’s springboard

As the final round of the W2RC (World Rally-Raid Championship), the Rallye du Maroc will be the centre of motorsport attention and the focus of all the contenders for the 2023 titles.

In the car category, Stéphane Peterhansel, aka 'Mr Dakar', is set to reappear at the wheel of the factory Audi for the first time since last January. Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing), for his part, will have a twofold objective: to win a seventh edition of the Rallye du Maroc and a second World Championship title against, among others, Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) and the event's defending champion Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsport).

On the bikes, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is expected to be led by Australian Toby Price. Husqvarna Factory Racing will defend the 2022 title of American Skyler Howes. Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing will be able to count on reigning World Champion, the British rider Sam Sunderland, while Hero MotoSports will, barring any surprises, field Botswana's Ross Branch. Last but not least, Monster Energy Honda, which boasts such aces as Brabec, Quintanilla and Van Beveren, may well be trying out a brand new machine developed by HRC for the Dakar.

The last rally-raid before the start of the 2024 season, which begins with the next Dakar, the Rallye du Maroc will attract all the stars of the discipline, as well as many amateurs. For all, it will be a dress rehearsal for the Saudi event.

To prepare the competitors for the challenges of the coming W2RC season, the Rallye du Maroc will once again assume its status as the event where innovations are rolled out. An electronic road book will be used by all participants, a first for the motorcycle competitors.

The Rallye du Maroc aims to be a springboard for the continent’s competitors thanks to the Africa Rallye Team's (A.R.T.) programme of training, detection and support for up-and-coming competitors. Supported by the Moroccan automobile and motorcycle federations and the Rallye du Maroc's major partners Afriquia, Maroc Telecom and OCP, the second year of this ambitious programme is already in the starting blocks.

On 17 and 18 June, around twenty candidates took part in the training and selection programme organised by ODC in Merzouga. Three nationalities were represented at this first grouping: alongside the Moroccans, the Mauritanian and Senegalese candidates testified to the continental influence of this young rally-raid school.

On site, David Castera and Loïc Minaudier, a former motorcycle racer turned top navigator (7th on the 2022 Dakar), ran theoretical workshops before putting the road book into practice. In the near future, the names of the candidates judged suitable for the adventure will be called upon to take part in the next edition of the Rallye du Maroc, for which the registration fee will be waivered. For the other candidates, coaching will continue to take them, step by step, towards their dream.

A rendez-vous with all Moroccans

The philosophy of the Rallye du Maroc and its major partners is to share rally-raid's values of fraternity and solidarity beyond sport. From the cities to the most remote areas, the passage of the caravan and the race is a moment of shared joy, a concrete trace for the future, a long-term project.

In Agadir, a giant concert featuring national and international headlining acts will once again be offered to the public of the city and its surrounding area (see programme below). Last year's festival attracted over 50,000 people.

In Zagora, this year's stopover town on the edge of the Drâa Valley, a school sports ground will be inaugurated. This is a concrete and lasting initiative aimed at the younger generation, who are more attracted than ever by the values conveyed by top-level sportsmen and women, of whom there is a wealth of talent in Morocco. The Atlas Lions' performance at the last World Cup is a case in point!

In Merzouga, the site of the rally’s prize-giving ceremony, will see crowned the winners of both the Rallye du Maroc and the 2023 World Champions. A spectacle and a day of celebration shared with all the inhabitants of the Chebbi Erg region.

The Rallye du Maroc Medical Caravan, inaugurated in 2021, will resume its consultations and supply of medicines to populations with very little access to healthcare in the desert areas that have counted for so much for the discipline since its creation.

As it does every year, O.D.C. Events will be working with the Moroccan authorities, its local partners and more than thirty national companies supplying the Rallye du Maroc.

All of this valuable expertise will be brought to bear on the ecological, logistical and human challenges of organising this major event in the Moroccan sporting calendar, which for ten days will welcome a caravan of around 1,200 competitors, media and organisers, with the greatest respect for the area and its inhabitants.

Registration deadline: 27/09,
- Private tests: all day on 10/10 and morning of 11/10
- Technical and administrative scrutineering: 11/10 afternoon and 12/10 at the Grand Stade Adrar, Agadir
- Prologue and podium: 13/10
- Stage 1: 14/10 - Agadir-Zagora
- Stage 2: 15/10 - Zagora-Zagora
- Stage 3: 16/10 - Zagora-Zagora
- Stage 4: 17/10 - Zagora-Merzouga
- Stage 5: 18/10 - Merzouga -Merzouga
- Prize-giving ceremony: 18/10, Merzouga

Agadir concert programming:
- DJ Aymoun, Toofan, Manal Benchlikha, Dystinct, Douzi, French Montana


Source Rally du Maroc / ODC

As a service to the sport we all love and follow, Rally-Raid Network posts numerous media releases from a wide variety of sources on our website. Due to the large number, and some times short time available, it is nearly impossible to review each public release. These articles are written by reporters or press officers who work for various organizers, teams, drivers, riders, and other parties, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Rally-Raid Network.