A flat-out prologue leg has kicked off the 2018 Rallye du Maroc and put some familiar faces in early control of the race. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team dominated the bike race by claiming all three podium spots in Morocco. Over in the car race it was sand racing specialist Nasser Al-Attiyah who went quickest over the 10-kilometre course.
As the Red Bull KTM Factory Team warm up for next January’s Dakar Rally in Peru their aim is clear. In South America the Austrian-based team will go for an unprecedented 18th consecutive Dakar bike race title. If the first day’s racing at Rallye du Maroc is anything to go by, they look set to taste victory once again at motorsports’ toughest test of endurance.
The first KTM biker home on Thursday’s prologue in Fes, Morocco was 2016 Dakar champion Toby Price of Australia. Price’s time of 8 minutes 47 seconds saw him beat team-mate Matthias Walkner of Austria by 10 seconds. In third place was British biker Sam Sunderland as the KTM crew locked out the Top 3 on day one.
« It was a really tricky, slippery stage today but I’ve come out with the win so I’m happy with that and get first pick for tomorrow’s starting order. » – Toby Price
In the car contest there were early celebrations for two-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in his Toyota Hilux. The Qatari and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel completed the 10km prologue in a speedy 8 minutes 27 seconds. Like Price, Al-Attiyah was also 10 seconds clear of his nearest rival – Martin Prokop of the Czech Republic.
The day’s third fastest car belonged to Polish racer Kuba Przygonski and his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul. Reaching the finish line in Morocco will be enough for this MINI Rally duo to be crowned 2018 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup champions
« I think that the Morocco Rally will be the decisive event for who wins the World Cup! We lead the overall standings and have to defend them here. Our MINI is very well prepared.