Dakar 2020: They have taken the « Pole Position » in Morocco…

Dakar 2020: They have taken the « Pole Position » in Morocco…

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From 5 to 9 October, the Rallye du Maroc featured the majority of the favourites for the up-coming edition of the Dakar for a world-class encounter over five stages, which is the final major test before the main event in Saudi Arabia in January.
The victories for Andrew Scott in the bike division, Giniel de Villiers in the cars, Ignacio Casale in his return to the quad category and Casey Currie in SSV give an insight to who is currently on form in the sport… but isn’t a confirmation of things to come either!
 
What happens in October doesn’t necessarily play out in January. Each will procure a special memory at the start of the 42nd edition of the Dakar in a little less than three months in Saudi Arabia. However, the seasoned-professionals like the amateurs in search of certainty before entering, for example, their first Dakar, certainly learned lessons and / or received encouragement from this week of racing in Morocco. Beginning in the car category with winner of the Dakar ten years ago Giniel de Villiers who was driven by consistency to another victory. Seconded by co-driver Alex Haro, the South African added a fourth Rallye du Maroc success to those won in 2003, 2006 and 2007 and also confirmed the level of performance of the Toyota Hilux, which won for the first time in 2019 on the Dakar with Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari driver, who lined up as the odds-on favourite at the start in Fes and candidate for a 6th title, was stopped dead in his tracks with mechanical problems: even the most reliable metronome can suffer a set back! The same can be said about Stéphane Peterhansel, whose hope for victory was dashed when he flipped his car on the same day. But the Mini X-Raid driver, now teamed with his wife Andréa, soldiered on and righted a historic anomaly in winning the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

The Rallye du Maroc was also the first major challenge for the most watched rally-raid newcomer, Fernando Alonso. Teamed with five-time Dakar champion Marc Coma as his co-driver, the twice Formula 1 World Champion experienced the gambit of classic rally-raid misfortunes, breaking a front axle that cost him 70 hours of penalties for not making it to the finish of stage three. When the dust settled, he arrived in Fes in 26th place in the general classification… To be continued…

The verdict in the motorbike race also opens unexpected perspectives, especially for the rivals of KTM, which has won the last 18 editions of the Dakar. Admittedly, those with a keen eye took notice last January of up and coming Andrew Short who rode into Lima in 6th place overall. But the American rider this time added some nerves of steel to his consistency when he had to defend his tenuous 28-second lead from his Husqvarna team mate Pablo Quintanilla, on the morning of the final stage. In a nearly identical situation, the Chilean rider was spared having to relive the nightmare of his final day in Peru (crash, injury and a 4th place finish while in contention for the win behind Price) and held on to the runner-up spot, while Joan Barreda completed the two-wheel podium. However, the KTMs are still a threat: Toby Price finished just seven seconds off the podium!


Source Dakar official press release / Photos DPPI / Rallye du Maroc

 

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