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W2RC - Loeb and Al-Attiyah top 83-vehicle entry for Rally of Morocco

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Nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb and quadruple Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah resume their duel for overall supremacy in the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) and top an impressive 83-car entry at the 22nd Rally of Morocco (October 1-6).

The six-day event starts and finishes in the port city of Agadir and heads into the southern deserts for the first time in many years, taking in two overnight bivouacs at Tan Tan and Laâyoune.

Co-driven by Belgian-driver Fabian Lurquin in a Prodrive-built Hunter BRX, Loeb currently holds a one-point lead over Al-Attiyah in the Drivers’ Championship, courtesy of finishing second to his Qatari rival at the Dakar Rally and taking points for sixth at round two in Abu Dhabi.

Al-Attiyah is a six-time winner of the Moroccan event (2014-2018 and 2021) and claimed a fourth Dakar title this year with co-driver Mathieu Baumel – himself a seven-time winner in Morocco. Al-Attiyah also scored points for 11th at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in his South African-built Toyota Gazoo Racing GR DKR Hilux, which sports the latest T1+ technological improvements in Morocco.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi heads to Morocco fresh from winning the opening round of the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship in Abha and the Overdrive Racing Toyota driver will be hoping to close the gap on the two leading title contenders. Regular co-driver Michael Orr fractured his fibula during an on-stage incident at Baja Poland earlier this month. His seat alongside Al-Rajhi will be taken by Dirk von Zitzewitz, the German being the winner of the Moroccan event back in 2006 and 2007 when he was part of the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

The X-raid Mini JCW Team has entered a pair of Buggies for Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern. The former holds fourth place in the title race and teams up with new Spanish co-driver Armand Monleón. X-raid has won the event on five previous occasions.

Overdrive Racing will run additional Hiluxes for Dutchman Erik van Loon, Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini and Frenchman Lionel Baud.

Argentina’s former FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas champion and 2013 Rally of Morocco winner Orlando Terranova drives the second Prodrive Hunter BRX. His co-driver Alex Haro won the event alongside Giniel de Villiers in 2019.  The team has also built a third Hunter for former X-raid factory driver Guerlain Chicherit, the Frenchman making a return to the cross-country discipline in a machine run by GCK Motorsport.

Another likely T1 front-runner is Evgeny Kireev at the helm of an SRT Racing Century CR6 Buggy.

Toyota Gazoo Racing holds a 33-point advantage over the X-raid Mini JCW Team in the W2RC Manufacturers’ series and is a further five in front of Bahrain Raid Xtreme. Toyota has a good record on the African classic and has won the last five Moroccan rallies.

Twenty-seven vehicles grace the entry for the highly competitive FIA T3 category, where South Racing Can-Am Team driver Francisco Lopez currently enjoys a 25-point cushion over the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team’s Cristina Gutierrez (OT3). The Spaniard’s team-mate Seth Quintero is a close third in the points’ standings. All three will be looking to strengthen their title bids.

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team is running additional Grallyteam OT3s for Guillaume de Mevius and Mitch Guthrie, while the FN Speed Team is represented by Sebastien Guayasamin, Jordi Segura and Merce Marti.

Lopez is joined in the South Racing Can-Am Team T3 line-up Annett Fischer, while Frenchman Jean-Luc Pisson and Aussie Glenn Brinkman wheel out a pair of PH Sport-built Zephyrs. The team is also taking part in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

Gutierrez’s co-driver François Cazalet leads Germany’s Dennis Zenz by 19 points in the tussle to become the top T3 co-driver.

Twenty-one rivals will be hoping to upstage FIA T4 category leader Austin Jones and his closest rival Marek Goczal. The duo are separated by just four points in their South Racing-built Can-Ams, with Arizona-based Jones entered under the Can-Am Factory South Racing banner and his Polish rival representing the Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team.

Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuška trails Jones by 15 points after two rounds of the series and represents the South Racing Can-Am Team alongside Rodrigo Luppi and Lucas Del Rio. The Brazilian and the Chilean are fifth and sixth in the FIA T4 Drivers’ Championship standings. Spaniard Pau Navarro, meanwhile, drives an FN Speed Can-Am and is also registered to score T4 points in the W2RC series.

Jones’s co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin leads Lukasz Laskawiec by four points in the T4 co-drivers’ series.

Kees Koolen is tackling the W2RC in an Iveco Powerstar truck entered in the FIA T5 section and holds a 32-point cushion over Czech rival Martin Macik after two rounds. The Dutchman teams up with Wouter de Graaf and Paulo Ceci at the head of an eight-truck field that also includes his closest challenger Macik and his Czech team-mates, Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda.

The third of the three trucks registered for W2RC T5 points is a Ford Cargo in the hands of Tomas Vratny, Bartolomiej Boba and Jaromir Martinec. The T5 series reaches its conclusion in North Africa, as trucks will not take part in the Andalucia Rally at the end of October.

The Rally of Morocco starts with a short Qualifying Stage on Saturday, October 1st and heads deep into southern Morocco with bivouacs scheduled in Tan Tan and adjacent to the Atlantic coast in the town of Laâyoune. This area was regularly used on previous classic Dakar and Morocco rallies. Competitors can expect strong winds and fierce temperatures in addition to punishing and challenging desert terrain.

“We wanted to take the competitors elsewhere on new tracks,” said Event Director David Castera. “From a sporting point of view it will be more interesting because the regulars won’t have more reference points than the competitors who are less initiated with Morocco. Navigation and sand will be big parts in this edition, which will take place in wilder territories.”

The event finishes back in Agadir on Thursday, October 6th.

Entrants will tackle six selective sections and 1,583km against the clock in a compact total route of 2,319km.


2022 Rally of Morocco  – leading entries:

200. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) Prodrive Hunter BRX 
201. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux
202. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 
203. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Alex Haro (ESP)Prodrive Hunter BRX
204. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE)Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country
205. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
206. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Armand Monleón (ESP) X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Buggy
207. Sebastien Halpern (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Buggy
208. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA)Prodrive Hunter 
209. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Gabriel Pemeant (FRA) Toyota Hilux


Timetable of events:

Friday, September 30 
Administration checks, Agadir Stadium08.00hrs-18.30hrs
Scrutineering checks, Agadir Stadium09.30hrs-20.00hrs
Pre-event press conference, Palais des Congrès, Agadir18.00hrs
Saturday, October 1 
Qualifying Stage (Leg 1A - 9km), Agadir 16.54hrs
Sunday, October 2 
Leg 1B (Agadir-Tan Tan – 316km)First car – TBA
Monday, October 3  
Leg 2 (Tan Tan–Laâyoune – 315km)First car – TBA
Tuesday, October 4 
Leg 3 (Laâyoune–Laâyoune – 299km)First car - TBA
Wednesday, October 5 
Leg 4 (Laâyoune–Tan Tan – 346km)First car - TBA
Thursday, October 6 
Leg 5 (Tan Tan–Agadir – 290km)First car - TBA
Podium ceremony, Palais des Congrès, Agadir21.00hrs


Notes to editors:

2022 marked an exciting new chapter for cross-country rallying, as the discipline became the seventh World Championship under the governance of the FIA.

The four-round inaugural world series kicked off with the famous Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. It remained in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the UAE, before heading to Northern Africa for the Rallye du Maroc and Andalucia Rally in Europe.

Revolutionary new technical regulations, in support of the FIA’s long-term environmental strategy, have been implemented, marking the debut of alternative and experimental technologies in the discipline. Regulations for T5 prototype trucks have also been introduced and, in general, all regulations pertaining to cross-country vehicles have been aligned to ensure inclusivity and consistency for competitors across all events around the world.

The new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship joined the FIA Formula One World Championship, the FIA World Rally Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the FIA World Rallycross Championship, the FIA Formula E World Championship and the FIA Karting World Championship at the highest levels of the sport.