Andalucía Rally 2022: D-6 Andalusia with open arms

Andalucía Rally 2022: D-6 Andalusia with open arms

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Initially scheduled for the beginning of June, the third edition of the Andalucía Rally had to be rescheduled to 18-23 October due to the fire risk that hit Europe last summer. Only a few days after the third round of the rally-raid world championship (W2RC), held in Morocco, the Andalucía Rally will be the final round of the W2RC. Well-deserved recognition for the recently created race that, far from resting on its laurels, is already part of the nomadic tradition of rally-raid, with a new bivouac set up in the town of Dos Hermanas, from where loops will run out to new Andalucian provinces. All the big teams, stars and amateurs, attracted by the accessibility of this south European rally-raid, are already on their way. More than a hundred vehicles are expected in a week’s time, including a few surprises!

La tercera edición del Andalucía Rally, prevista inicialmente a principios de junio, se tuvo que aplazar a octubre, del 18 al 23, debido al elevado riesgo de incendio en Europa que se prolongó durante todo el verano. Tan solo unos días después de la tercera ronda del Campeonato del Mundo de Rally Raid (W2RC) celebrado en Marruecos, el Andalucía Rally se convierte también en la ronda final del W2RC. Todo un reconocimiento para una carrera joven que no ha querido dormirse en los laureles y que sigue la tradición nómada del rally-raid al proponer un nuevo vivac en Dos Hermanas con un recorrido en forma de trébol hacia nuevas provincias andaluzas. Ya están en camino los grandes equipos, las estrellas y los amateurs seducidos por la accesibilidad de este rally raid organizado en la punta meridional de Europa. ¡Dentro de una semana se espera la llegada de más de cien vehículos, entre ellos algunas sorpresas!

The corner stone of the edifice

Created at the end of 2020, in the middle of the global pandemic, the Andalucía Rally was an oasis for a discipline threatened at the time with asphyxiation. A breath of fresh air only six months later when the Andalusia returned in May 2021. The determination of an entire region, combined with its economic and geographical accessibility won over the international rally-raid caravan.
The gamble of organising a race in Europe, far from the usual deserts, was validated by professionals and amateurs alike. The latter came ‘en masse’, making the Andalucía Rally a starting off point for the discipline.
A not so distant past that David Castera, creator of the Andalucía Rally, feels is important to remember: "Andalucía allowed rally-raid to exist during the Covid thanks to the will and know-how of a whole region that was able to host us by meeting the necessary sanitary requirements in record time. We already tend to forget it, but coming here with tests at the start, on arrival, before going home, wearing a mask, the sanitary bubble, was almost an expedition in itself. Today, if we remain loyal to the region, it is in part because rally-raid owes it this recognition.”
As is only fitting, the 2022 Andalucía Rally is part of the new FIA and FIM world rally-raid championship under the W2RC banner. After the mid-championship turning point at the beginning of October with the Rallye du Maroc, the competitors will be on the last straight of the season!

Andalusia holds its doors wide open

For the occasion and true to the DNA of the rally-raid, the Andalucía Rally has decided to take competitors to discover other facets of its territory.
First of all, a new town, Dos Hermanas, near Seville, will welcome the competitors in a bivouac set up at the prestigious Andalusia Hippodrome.
2,078 kilometres await the competitors, of which 1,175 kilometres will be timed selective sections.

The opportunity to discover four of Andalusia’s eight provinces. The province of Sevilla, with its vast, undulating fields of wheat and olive trees, the focus of the first two editions, will be in the spotlight for stage 1. The province of Malaga will be the main ingredient of stage 2 with more winding tracks, through denser vegetation towards the Mediterranean. Stage 3 will feature Huelva with its sandy tracks in the middle of eucalyptus forests, west of Seville. Finally, Cadiz for stage 4, at the southern tip of Europe, the gateway to Africa, the cradle of the rally-raid. The finish will be held on the beach, a nod to the Dakars of yesteryear, with its traditional arrival at Lac Rose.

The help of more than 1,200 volunteers, the mobilization of the Guardia Civil and the Police, 34 municipalities and landowners will be necessary for the smooth running of this challenge that Andalusia so ably rises to.

This third edition will have a special flavour for the competitors but also for its hosts. Freed from sanitary constraints, the Andalusian public will finally be able to express its passion for motorsport and in particular for this race that David Castera likes to see as "a rally-raid apart, like a small Dakar in Europe that we bring to show the discipline on terrain that is not those of the usual deserts". A different atmosphere, tinged with a hint of WRC, should reign at the side of the tracks. Especially since a certain nine times world champion of the discipline will be present. And Sébastien Loeb is unlikely to disappoint his fans. If he wants to win his tenth world crown, he will have to pull out all the stops to regain the advantage over Nasser Al Attiyah, two-time winner in Andalusia and leader of the world championship!

 

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Loeb-Al Attiyah, battle of the titans

Loeb and Al Attiyah have been battling it out since the opening round of the W2RC, with the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver holding a one-point advantage in Jeddah before the Frenchman took over the lead in Abu Dhabi, also by a single point. In Morocco just a few days ago, the first stages were a rollercoaster. One day Loeb lost ground and precious minutes, the next day Al Attiyah punctured four times, so much so that the Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver took half an hour off him. But a power steering failure on Loeb's Hunter ended the suspense. The Qatari did not win the Rallye du Maroc, but he took a serious option on the world championship title by finishing ahead of Loeb. The five-time winner of the rally raid world cup and winner of the 2022 Dakar Rally will therefore go into the W2RC final with a lead in the rankings. While everyone is expecting a driving demonstration from Loeb on the closed WRC-type tracks of Andalusia, it should not be forgotten that the Toyota driver remains undefeated in Andalusia and that he won last year against Carlos Sainz, another former WRC world champion. In T3, Cristina Gutierrez (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team) will be in the same situation as Loeb. Lagging behind world championship leader ‘Chaleco’ Lopez (Can-Am Factory South Racing), the reigning queen will have to get her claws out if she hopes to avoid being dethroned at home. In T4, the situation is quite different, but no less intense. The first three in the championship are separated by just one point! In other words, the slightest mistake will be costly and the outcome of the race will determine the final W2RC result.

On the bikes, Sam Sunderland, like ‘Chaleco’, has held the lead since the Dakar. While he enjoys a slim margin, he can’t afford to make too many mistakes. Because behind the GasGas Factory Racing rider, the Monster Energy Honda duo of Quintanilla-Brabec are waiting to pounce.

Beyond the W2RC, the Andalucía Rally will see of a couple of surprises, including the appearance of "Mr. Dakar" himself. And not in the new Audi RS Q e-tron E2 as on the Rallye du Maroc, but at the wheel of a lightweight prototype Yamaha Powered by x-Raid! Entered in the Open SSV category, Stéphane Peterhansel's mission will be to validate, and show off the brand’s future T3. The prototype, that comes out of the workshops of Sven Quandt - who just happens to also be in charge of the Audi program - should receive FIA homologation for the Dakar to run in the T3 category. On the last round of the 2022 W2RC, Yamaha and x-Raid will want to prove that their prototype will be a force to be reckoned with in 2023. Several examples will be at the start of the Dakar next January. In the T3 category, we won't have to wait until then to welcome another interloper. Mathieu Serradori and Loïc Minaudier, 7th on the 2022 Dakar in their SRT buggy, have also decided to shine the spotlight on another vehicle than the one they are used to driving. The French duo have entered in a PH-Sport Zephyr.

Visit the Andalucía Rally website to discover the full list of participants!

Source Andalucía Rally
Photos: @AndaluciaRally

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