Rallye du Maroc 2022: D4 - Tough day for Loeb

Rallye du Maroc 2022: D4 - Tough day for Loeb

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The penultimate stage between Laayoune and Tan-Tan saw plenty of upsets. In the motorcycle category, Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) won the day and took the overall lead. In the car category, Sebastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) pulled out of the special stage with a technical problem, allowing Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing), 3rd on the day, to take a major option on the world championship. Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsports) increased his lead in the overall standings on the eve of the finish. In T3, "Chaleco" Lopez (Can-Am Factory South Racing) lost the lead to Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior). Given everything that’s happened over the last 4 days it would be a brave man to make any bets on the final outcome in Agadir tomorrow.

Clearly the American bike competitors like riding in Morocco. On today’s penultimate special Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) not only took the win but with it the overall lead. That’s his good news. His not so good news is that fellow American Skyler Howes (Husqvarna Factory Racing) is only 1’11” behind and starts tomorrow back in 6th place. Rally logic suggestions that Brabec will lose time opening, while Howes will gain time following and is therefore favourite for the top step of the final podium. However, neither is too keen to make any prognostics because they both know that the terrain and navigation are so tricky here that anything can happen. A truism that Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) knows only too well. Third place overall this morning the likeable Australian crashed at pk 85. Evacuated by helicopter suffering from concussion, further examinations found nothing more serious. No surprises in Rally2 with Mason Klein (BAS World KTM Racing) coming across the line 13’48” ahead of teammate Bradley Cox. Overall the American leads the South African by 42’11”. In Rally3 the Indian Sherco rider Abdul Wahid finally broke Amine Echiguer’s stranglehold on the category with the Moroccan rider maintaining his overall lead 12’21” ahead of Guillaume Borne. Already victorious yesterday, Axel Dutrie (Drag'on Rally) won the quad category again today less than a minute ahead of Alexandre Giroud, actual leader of the world championship. Manuel Andujar completes the podium on the day's stage and retains the overall classification of the Rallye du Maroc.

In the cars, it’s a four-act drama being played out between Al Attiyah and Loeb. Today's episode saw the Frenchman come to a stop at pk 127. Without power steering, the Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver was unable to continue. A catastrophic scenario for the leader of the world championship who was only one point ahead of the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver. Nasser took the third place on the day 2'30'' behind teammate and winner of the day Al Rajhi (Toyota Overdrive). Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsports), repeats yesterday’s 2nd place, 1'30'' behind the Saudi. In the general standings, Chicherit increases his lead over Terranova (Bahrain Raid Xtreme). The Frenchman now has a cushion of 9'57''. A comfortable lead on the eve of the finish, especially since Nasser Al Attiyah is at 28'37'' and Al Rajhi at 40'48''.

In T3, the W2RC leader was upset by a Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team hattrick! Cristina Gutierrez, who had not yet taken a stage, won ahead of Seth Quintero and Mitch Guthrie who finished less than two minutes behind the Spaniard. "Chaleco" Lopez (Can-Am Factory Can-Am), finished 8th nearly 13 minutes behind. The Chilean, who has led the overall since the start, hands the leadership to Seth Quintero who is now 11'24" ahead. Cristina Gutierrez completes the podium only 43 seconds behind the Can-Am driver.

In T4, the Pole Marek Goczal (Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team) won the stage with the 10th fastest time behind the T1s. He finished just under 5 minutes ahead of world championship leader Austin Jones (Can-Am Factory South Racing) and Lithuania's Rokas Baciuska (South-Racing Can-Am). In the overall standings, Rokas Baciuska maintains the lead ahead of Pau Navarro (FN Speed) and Gonzalez Ferioli (South Racing Can-Am).

On the eve of the final finish line the battle for the different W2RC World Championship titles is hottng up. Sebastien Loeb's (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) troubles should benefit Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) who could take the lead of the championship before the last round in Andalusia. Mason Klein (Rally2, BAS World KTM Racing Team), winner today, Alexandre Giroud (quad, Yamaha SMX Drag'on), 2nd of the stage, and Rokas Baciuska (T4, South-Racing Can-Am), 3rd today, are on track to consolidate their lead in their respective categories. RallyGP leader Sam Sunderland (GasGas Factory Racing), who was second today and third overall, is also in a strong position.

However, the suspense remains in the T3 category. Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team), 2nd on the day and 3rd in the world championship before the start of the Rallye du Maroc, has taken the lead in the overall classification. But only 43 seconds separate the two leaders of the world championship, 'Chaleco’ Lopez (Can-Am Factory South Racing) and Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team)

Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) - “Good day today. Starting a way back on the longest stage worked in my favour. The only downside is that tomorrow I’m going to have to open the track. This is rally so anything can happen but we’re going to stay focused and do our best so that we end up somewhere on the podium - hopefully on the top step.”

Skyler Howes (Husqvarna Factory Racing) - “Today has worked out good for us in the overall results. Tomorrow we have a little bit more of a rear start to close it on in on the final day. But if it is once thing we’ve learnt on the Rally du Maroc is that something tricky can happen and that even if you have plenty of tracks to follow they play a little bit with these hidden waypoints. We’ll just keep pushing and take it a kilometre at a time.”

Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsports) - "The goal of the day was to consolidate our first place overall. We tried to drive fast in the first part, and that's what we did. At the neutralisation we had already taken more than two minutes off Nasser so we decided to drive cooler to bring the car safely back to the bivouac. I set the bar very high saying that we came to win and we will do everything we can to achieve that. Tomorrow we're going to drive like presidents, with our hands out to greet the crowd! If we do the Andalucía Rally, it will be the first time I've ever done the Dakar with a good car, good preparation and plenty of confidence.”

Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) - "This Rallye du Maroc is difficult for everyone because we are not used to coming to these regions, it is really interesting and it gives quite a few changes every day. Our target was Séb (Loeb) and we are focused on the world championship. Tomorrow we don't need to attack, it's an important day and we need to secure our position in the championship."

Sebastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) - "I had a power steering pressure alarm, we stopped, oil was leaking from a high pressure hose. We had 200 km left, which is impossible to do in the desert with these cars. We will try to score some points in the special stage tomorrow. It's not looking good for the championship for sure, but Nasser may also have a problem, we don't know what the future holds.”


Etape 5 : Tan-Tan – Agadir
Liaison : 89 km / SS : 290 km (77%) / total : 379 km)

Flat out on the Plage Blanche
David Castera: "The final stage will take the competitors to a finish along the Atlantic. It will be sandy from the start and you will have to stay focused on navigation all the way back to Agadir and not let yourself get distracted by the ocean scenery. Before the finish, the competitors will take the famous Plage Blanche on which they will be at full speed for more than ten kilometres. The kind of moment that we all appreciate.”

 Source Rallye du Maroc
Photo Rallyzone

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