Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah made a solid start to the Rallye Du Maroc on Saturday as he set the fastest time in the 8.67 km prologue, which served as a warm-up for the main action to follow over the next five days.
Al-Attiyah, driving a Toyota Hilux with co-driver Mathieu Baumel, will get to choose his starting position for today’s opening leg which consist of first of five long desert stages, a 316-kms competitive section from Agadir to Tan-Tan.
Al-Attiyah currently trails Sebastien Loeb by just one point in the FIA World Rally Raid championship, with the final round, the Andalucia Rally, to follow in Spain from 18-23 October. Yesterday, Loeb recorded the third fastest time for Bahrain Raid Xtreme.
The route covers more sand than in previous years, with bivouacs at Tan-Tan and Laayoune, and stages that are similar to those seen in Saudi Arabia in recent years for the Dakar Rally.
Al-Attiyah finds himself on an advantageous terrain in Morocco, having already won the race six times as well as being the event’s record holder. As for Loeb, the man from Alsace is less familiar with this Moroccan rally, having only featured twice in its final rankings (2nd in 2017 and 14th in 2015).
However, al-Attiyah knows that the nine-time winner of the WRC will be on much more comfortable ground in Andalusia, on closed tracks not dissimilar to those found on the Baja races.
In short, the intensity of this duel will be higher than ever on the long road down to the south of Morocco.
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