Red Bull Desert Wings will kickstart Dakar preparations at Rallye du Maroc

Off-road racing returns to the desert this week with the biggest-ever edition of Rallye du Maroc. Over 250 vehicles will be out to cover over 2,500 kilometres of testing terrain. With some Dakar heavyweights heading to Morocco to race, let’s find out more about the next stop on the rally-raid calendar…

The action starts with a 10km prologue stage on Friday, October 8. Then comes five days of full-on desert racing on special stages measuring between 288km and 367km. Each day at the rally starts and finishes at the Zagora bivouac and will feature technical, fast and sandy tracks mixed with dunes and navigation.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing arrive in North Africa boasting the most formidable line-up of bikers ever assembled in rally-raid competition. Toby Price, Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner and new recruit Kevin Benavides are all former winners of the Dakar. As well as looking forward to Saudi Arabia, Walkner is also leading the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Victory for KTM at Rallye du Maroc is seen as an important step to the team reestablishing their dominance at the Dakar, but they face a stacked field of competitors in Morocco. GasGas Factory rider Daniel Sanders was the breakout star of the last Dakar and he has his own designs on picking up a race win sooner rather than later. Also targeting strong performances in the bike race will be Štefan Svitko and Camille Chapelière.

Out of the 100 car crews entered to race Rallye du Maroc, none have enjoyed success at the event quite like five-time winners Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel. Toyota Hilux driver Al-Attiyah is also a three-time winner of the Dakar and is desperate to taste victory now that the famous rally has relocated to the Middle East. Al-Attiyah and Baumel will be out to show that they’re well on the pace in Morocco this week.

Mattias Ekström will continue his own rally-raid progression at Rallye du Maroc, this time behind the wheel of a MINI JCW Rally. The Swedish speedster is building towards his second shot at the Dakar while also juggling Extreme E and WRX commitments.

At the controls of a two-wheel drive MINI JCW Buggy in Morocco will be Poland’s Kuba Przygonski. Multiple Top 10 finishes in both the bike and car races at the Dakar make Przygonski a threat at any rally-raid he enters.

Over in the side-by-side race the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team will be represented by Cristina Gutiérrez and Seth Quintero. Gutiérrez leads the T3 category of FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies following wins earlier this year in Andalucia and Kazakhstan. Quintero will be out to make even more history after becoming the Dakar’s youngest-ever stage winner earlier this year.

This latest version of Rallye du Maroc runs from Friday, October 8 until Wednesday, October 13 and promises a week of delicious desert racing.

QUOTES
Toby Price: « I’m super-excited to sign up for another two years with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team. It feels like a big family to me and is definitely a home away from home, so another two years with the guys is certainly something I’m looking forward to. Hopefully, I can repay the confidence they have in me by taking another few wins. The goal over the next two years is to definitely add another Dakar title to my name, and if I can add two, that would be even better! »

Kevin Benavides: « Joining Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is really exciting and a big, big change for me. As a Dakar champion this is a very important new chapter in my career. Looking ahead to next year, the ultimate goal would be to win the Dakar for the second time. To be part of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is a dream and an honour. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and very eager to start racing. »

Nasser Al-Attiyah: « For me, this rally is always a good one. It is a tough race over really difficult terrain, but it is also a very rewarding race if you manage to deal with its many challenges. Our Hilux has proven itself as a race winner, so we have every reason to hope for a good result. »

Seth Quintero: « It’s been a crazy few weeks at home with all the racing we’ve been doing there and now it’s great to be back to rally-raid. Morocco was my first-ever international racing trip and it’s great to back here. It’s great to see my team-mates and the rest of the team again. At this race we’re going to do our best to help Cristina in her hunt for the championship. It would be great if she can wrap up the championship here. »

Cristina Gutiérrez: « My ambition for Rallye du Maroc is to score enough points to continue leading the championship. For me it would be a dream come true to maintain our lead until the end of the season. After having won the first two races it is important to continue scoring points, despite all the difficulties we have had. »

David Castera, Rallye du Maroc chief: “If I had asked for such a bivouac in France or anywhere else in the world, people would have thought I was insane. The know-how of the nomads and their capacity to adapt is phenomenal. Nothing is impossible, the answer to every question is always ‘machi moushkil’, literally ‘no problem’. And they always manage to pull it off, sometimes really incredible feats. The Rallye du Maroc no longer simply bears the name of a country, but that of its people, who share with us the values of solidarity and pushing one’s limits that have always been intrinsic to rally-raid. »

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