Rallye du Maroc 2018, one of the brightest, most exciting and unpredictable rounds of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, will last from 3 to 9 October.
From Fez to Erfoud and back – the rally-raid route promises to be difficult (and the race will be held as a line competition). For the first time in the long history of the Moroccan round the organizers have been changed. David Castera, the main person of the new team, was an experienced co-driver who assisted Cyril Despres, the multiple winner of the Dakar and Silk Way rally marathons.
Rallye du Maroc 2018 entry list consists of the cream of rally raids. So many champions can gather, perhaps, only at the start of the legendary Dakar – there are 135 participants: 44 motorcycles in the FIM international standings, 21 crews in SSVs, 41 representatives in the Enduro standings, 12 cars in the open class, four trucks and 34 crews in the FIA application list, 12 of them are the FIA priority list drivers (the first drivers are on this list for their merits and past achievements).
More than 2000 kilometers of the total distance and 1362 kilometers of special stages – this is the length of the route along the sandy and mountain roads of Morocco. A double scoring index will be a nice addition to an interesting track and stunning landscapes. The maximum is 60 points for the victory, instead of the usual 30 points given at other rounds.
The G-Energy Team from Russia continues to fight for the FIA World Cup. Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov have already arrived in the kingdom of Al-Maghrib al-Aqsa (as the Arabs call Morocco) and are preparing for the upcoming event. The crew spent a long three-day tests before the rally raid start – they tasted dunes, gravel and set up their Toyota for the Moroccan race features. The main changes were made to the engine, the balance and the suspension.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “I like the rally in Morocco: we have the stones, the dunes, and not very hard roads, that is, a very good race. We will drive the Toyota Hilux, but this is practically a different car than the one we used in Poland. The suspension is different; the engine is different, although there is an inconvenience – the driver’s seat, because the legs are at the seat level. I got used to it for a long time, trying to sit better. We had joint tests with other racers of the team that lends us a car. The atmosphere was nice and friendly. We always fight to the last, and now we will do it, because Morocco is such a mini-Dakar, competitors are so interesting. This time the organizers are new; David Castera is the racer first of all, but you also need to learn how to be the organizer of the races (although he has some experience). We hope everything will be ok”.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, co-driver, “I hoped that the race with the new sports director would be “turned” to the participants more, because David Castera had been on our side for a long time. But, judging by how the regulations are made and what is written in them, the organizers decided to fight against the “mapmen” – those who are plotting the route for racers using maps, focusing on the road book. It seems to me the situation has become worse for those who are just starting out and trying to develop somehow in rally raids. If to speak about the innovations, there are quite tough conditions concerning the reduction of distances and the detour of some difficult sections; you can be disqualified for it. I don’t understand how it will work… what if the crew got lost? The only thing that has changed – there will be hidden points again, no one knows where they are located, they will appear as you go the distance and observe the route, but the “corridor” of taking points has expanded from 90 to 300 meters. The rest is as usual. Let’s see how the race starts!”
Today, on 3 October, the crews have undergone administrative and technical checks, and on Thursday the racers will tackle the Prologue – a fast 10-kilometer distance. The track is a climb to the mountain range and the descent from it – magnificent landscapes, but a purely rally conditions… After all, you can both win and lose without knowing the features of local roads. At such a long race as in Morocco the Prologue plays a big role, because the first ten crews have the right to choose the starting position for the next day.
The first kilometers of the distance are also important here, where you can make a handicap, breaking away from your pursuers. In this direction, how the race track is organized this year, very few people have ever traveled – it will be new for all the crews. There will be a lot of work for the first “opening” crew, because tomorrow the drivers will try to win a short spectator special stage in order to be able to choose a more advantageous starting position.
Now the G-Energy Team crew is in the second place in the intermediate World Cup classification, but this season both Vasilyev and his rival Jakub Przygonski show excellent results: the “worst” results are the fourth positions. At all the rest rounds both the Pole and the Russian finished on the podium, however, Przygonski has never been below the third place. The tactical tasks for the crews differ at the rally in Morocco: for Kuba it is enough to finish (it means not to retire) at any place above the tenth, and Vladimir Vasilyev needs to win the race. The task is not easy, but those who come to Morocco never give up!