A world first today for the competitors in the FIM bike / quad class with the introduction of the much-anticipated Super-Marathon stage. Under this new regime, at the end of the special riders went directly into a service park where only they were allowed to work on their bike for a maximum of 10 minutes, before placing their machines in parc ferme ‘ready’ the third stage.
Today’s leg, 435 kilometres for the FIA cars and FIM bikes / quads, 396 kilometres for the Enduro Cup Afriquia, SSV Maroc Telecom and Open vehciles, was run in a loop around the bivouac in Aoufous. As on yesterday’s stage, the 2019 Rallye du Maroc route started off the same for all the competitors until 270 kilometres. At that point the Enduro Cup Afriquia, SSV Maroc Telecom and Open vehicles split off to do a last 12 kilometres of special on their own, followed by a liaison, while the FIM and FIA competitors continued for another 96 kilometres of selective section, before arriving directly in the bivouac. Whatever their category, all the competitors got to enjoy plenty of dunes, including the famous Erg Chebbi.
FIM BIKES-QUADS: BARREDA WINS THE STAGE AND TAKES THE OVERALL LEAD
The first part of the Super-Marathon stage saw victory go to Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda Team). The Spanish rider, who started 10th this morning, attacked hard to catch his rivals, but may pay the price tomorrow riding with tyres that are already well worn out. Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team) gave the Japanese manufacturer the double, despite a navigation error that probably cost him the victory. The American ex-super-cross rider Andrew Short (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team) completed the day’s podium. Bad day on the other hand for Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). The recently crowned 2019 FIM World Champion was taken to hospital for a check up after crashing at kilometre 223. Teammate and another of the favourites, the Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) could only manage ninth place, 15’39” from Barreda (Monster Energy Honda Team) who also takes the overall lead ahead of Andrew Short (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team) and Luciano Benavides (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
In the quads Ignacio Casale (Drag’on) once again won the stage, this time ahead of Alexandre Giroud (Team Giroud) by 12’06”, with Kamil Wisniewski (Wisniewski Team) at 26’40’’. The Chilean rider increases his overall lead on Alexandre Giroud (Team Giroud), by 14’26’’.
Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda Team)
“It was a good day. In the beginning I find some riders a little bit confused in some sections and then I overtake them and push til I catch the front riders. I caught Quintanilla who slowed down a little because he had pain with his leg. It was difficult to overtake him in the dust. We see tomorrow if I can continue with this tyre all the day.”
Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team)
“Today was a nice day, really fast, a lot of navigation. A really technical stage, dunes, tracks in the middle of the mountains and tricky tracks in the rivers. I was going well and then 80 kms from the end I got lost for about 5 kms and then I got on the right track and pushed to the end. Bike is ok, I only changed the filter and check a few things.”
Andrew Short (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)
“My plan was to be smooth yesterday, push a little today, manage tomorrow and then push again on Day 4. Smashed my front wheel a bit, so I’ll have some work to do with the spokes in the morning, check the filter but the rest seems OK. The tyres are decent. They’re not looking great but not too bad.”
Adrien Van Beveren (Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team)
“I feel better that yesterday, that’s the good news. But I still don’t feel great. I gave everything I had as usual. The rally still has a way to go. I tried to save my tyres. At the end I made two big navigation mistakes in Andrew’s (Short) dust. It was a real rally stage, very complicated, very long. I hit a few stones with my front wheel. It is a little squared off, but it still turns.”
Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team)
. “I was just trying to ride conservatively and save the tyres. Unfortunately at km 5 or 7 my navigation tower worked loose. I tried to tighten it up but it can’t be fixed until tomorrow evening. Apart from that bike is in good shape. Today wasn’t a super long day but really fast with a lot of hard tracks so I think a lot of the tyres out there are going to be pretty smoked. Some of the navigation was pretty tricky and a lot of people got lost, but that’s rally…”
Alexandre Giroud (Team Giroud)
“It was a long hot day. My biggest worry was damaging the quad. I really took it easy. My goal was to get to the end and preserve my tyres. I’m happy because the machine is in good condition. I got a little lost. I need to work on my navigation to reach the level of the best like Ignacio. I’ve done three Dakar now but compared to Casale and Sonik I lack experience. I have come here to see what I need to work on to improve.”
FIA: NASSER AL-ATTIYAH KEEPS PUSHING
Once again Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) proved the fastest on the day. The Qatari driver apparently used this special to gauge his level - which nobody would deny is sky-high, beating as he did Jakub Przygonski by 11’09”, Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini John Cooper Works Buggy) by 12’32’’ and his teammate Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) by 13’55’’, handicapped by a cracked manifold which resulted in a lack of power. Posting an impressive time yesterday, Mathieu Serradori (Century Racing CR6) finished 9th today after having stopped 8 minutes to help an injured rider. Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing), after a difficult day yesterday, finished today in 10th place at 31’37’’. Overall Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) shores up his lead with Giniel De Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) second at 17’09”, followed closely by Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini John Cooper Works Buggy) at 17’46’’.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
“We didn’t make any navigation mistakes and I was really pushing because we need to see where we are. It looks like a good stage for us and we will see what the gap is between us and the second place.”
Mathieu Serradori (Century Racing CR6)
“I stopped for a rider who was on the ground. It is the law of rally-raid. I ride bikes myself so it was natural for me. We restarted 8 minutes later and normally we will be given that time back so we shouldn’t be too bad. We’re battling with drivers who have a lot of experience and we are here to learn and improve. Fabian navigated well. We had a doubt a moment and did a few extra kms in the dunes. As David Castera warned us, it was a real rally-raid stage. A really tough day.”
Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid John Cooper Works Team)
“It was a good mix of terrain. We didn’t have any big problems. We didn’t get any punctures, we didn’t get stuck in the sand, we just struggled with the navigation a couple of times and then at the end we reduced the pace a little because Andrea wasn’t feeling at the top of her form. Tomorrow we get our road book in the morning and everybody is a bit stressed about this but the good news is the co-drivers get the night off and can enjoy this evening. Its good news because yesterday Andrea was once again working until 1 in the morning and put her alarm on for 5 this morning – not great when you’re sharing the same room…”
Giniel De Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
“Not an easy day. We lost 3 or 4 minutes at the beginning with the navigation. Then 130 kms into the special we lost a manifold in the engine which cost us a lot of power and then the engine uses more fuel, so we had to manage the fuel consumption. Then with the lack of power not easy to get across the dunes and one place we had to turn around. It was a day to survive and it could have been worse. We can try again tomorrow.”
Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
“We didn’t have any problems. And we enjoyed the day. The start order didn’t help us and we had a lot of dust. Especially over the first kilometres. But its like that. I’m happy with how the stage went.”
ENDURO CUP AFRIQUIA / SSV MAROC TELECOM / CAR OPEN / TRUCK OPEN : FLICK, LAVIEILLE AND VALTR, WIN AGAIN, CURRIE NEW LEADER
In the SSV Maroc Telecom category, Casey Currie (Monster Energy Can-Am) had a good day, winning the special to take the overall lead. The American continues his Dakar apprenticeship. Today he led home Antonio Lopez (Buggy Master Team & XrRaids) and the Frenchman Eric Abel.
In the Enduro Cup Afriquia Xavier Flick (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) won once again and builds up a substantial led. Guillaume Borne (Team Maroc) is second at 1h21’34’’ while Damien Batailler (Team DB Racing) takes third.
Christian Lavieille (Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body) once again won the stage. The Frenchman is now a relatively comfortable 1h15’54’’ ahead of his teammate Philippe Gache (Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body), third today and 1h30’53’’ on the second of the day, Jean-Antoine Sabatier (Bugga’One).
Jaroslav Valtr (Valtr Racing Team) won the special in the Open Truck class with a time of 7h51’54’’.
Casey Currie (Monster Energy Can-Am)
“We had problems with the navigation. We are still learning. Days like today give us a lot of experience, especially when it comes to dune crossings. The Rallye du Maroc is a test for us. We are here to improve for the Dakar. There’s three days left. We’re having a great time!”
Guillaume Borne (Team Maroc)
“We made a big navigation error today and it costs us more than 30 minutes. I am a rookie and I am here to learn. I had a big crash yesterday trying to follow my betters. Physically I can make it to the end. The goal is to get the bike to the end for my team.”
Christian Lavieille (Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body)
“We went up and down like a yoyo with our tyre pressures today to get over the dunes. We didn’t have a great pace in the rolling sections. The special seemed very long. In the end we managed to overtake a lot of cars who went past us when we stopped to let out tyres down.”
FOCUS ON THE…. ROAD-BOOK!
Tomorrow’s big innovation, at the start of the 3rd stage of the Rally du Maroc is that the FIA and FIM competitors won’t get their road book until tomorrow morning. 15 minutes before the start for bikes and five minutes before the start for cars. Normally the road book is given out at the bivouac the evening before the stage, giving lots of time for the competitors to prepare them, occasionally by employing considerably technology.
Today the new road book has everybody worried but it is a good thing. All the bike riders and co-drivers are up half the night and are tired the next day,” commented Stéphane Peterhansel. “For everybody to be on an equal footing they had to find a solution. I think this is the best one,” concluded Mr Dakar.
The operation will be repeated at the start of Stage 4, this time for all the competitors.
Stage 3: Monday 7 October: Aoufous – Aoufous
The FIM / FIA competitors and the Enduro Cup / SSV / Opens cars have essentially different routes for this third stage, sharing only parts of one loop. In total the FIM / FIA competitors have three specials totalling 363 km of timed special and 178 km of liaison. The Enduro Cup Afriquia / SSV Maroc Telecom / Open cars for their part have a first special of 148 km followed by just 3 km of liaison (when they can return to the bivouac) and then another 121 km of special.
Not only will the FIM riders have to contend with riding their unserviced bikes on yesterday’s tyres, they will also, along with their FIA colleagues, not receive their road books until just before they start.