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Dakar heavyweights Al Attiyah and Sainz head to Morocco for final tune-up

Looking to make his presence felt in a star-studded line-up is two-time Dakar champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah in his Toyota Hilux. Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Bengaluru, October 9: The penultimate round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, which begins in Morocco on Thursday (October 4) will see top contenders for Dakar Rally including two-time champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and the legendary Carlos Sainz face off in a fierce off-road battle royale.

The prestigious Rallye du Maroc will test racers and their machines over a punishing six-day schedule.

And a victory in Northwest Africa is sure to put the victorious crew on pole position ahead of a trip to Peru next January to contest the 2019 Dakar.

Two-time champion

Two-time champion

Looking to make his presence felt in a star-studded car race line-up is two-time Dakar champion Al Attiyah in his Toyota Hilux.

The Qatari driver and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel are looking forward to racing against the X-raid MINI JCW Team in South America. This week's demanding Rallye du Maroc course will give us a glimpse at how things could play out in Peru next year.

Competitive racing

Competitive racing

There's plenty of intrigue surrounding the new X-raid MINI JCW Team who arrive in Africa for their first taste of competitive racing.

The all-Spanish crew of Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz and Frenchmen Cyril Despres and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret know all about winning on the dunes. This pair of multiple Dakar winning duos will each race their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy in Morocco.

"It feels good to be here in Morocco because it gives us the chance to race our MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. The testing has been going on throughout the year, but now it's time to race," said Sainz.

Cusp of glory

Cusp of glory

It's not just the the X-raid MINI JCW Team that are bringing Dakar heavyweights to Morocco. Polish racer Jakub Przygonski and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul are on the cusp of clinching the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title in their own MINI machine.

"We need to get to the finish line in Morocco, if we do the World Cup is ours," said Przygonski.

All guns blazing

All guns blazing

Over in the bike category, the Red Bull KTM Factory Team arrive with all guns blazing with their own trio of Dakar champions are Matthias Walkner, Sam Sunderland and Toby Price. This week's racing in Morocco is part of KTM's preparations to hopefully secure an 18th consecutive Dakar bike title.

"I've been riding in the dunes to test out the foot I injured in August. Everything feels good and I'm ready to race in Morocco," said Sunderland.

The 2018 Rallye du Maroc starts with a 10km prologue stage on the dunes around Fes. Then the distance increases dramatically for the next five days of racing with 342km against the clock on the penultimate stage.

The final stage takes place on October 9 with a timed special of 198km bringing the convoy back to Fes.

(With inputs from Red Bull Motorsports Media)

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    Story first published: Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 15:11 [IST]
    Other articles published on Oct 3, 2018
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