The second half of the Super-Marathon stage lived up to its promise in the FIM bike-quad category. Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) won the day and jumps up to first place overall. Like the Australian rider, Carlos Sainz (Mini John Cooper Works Buggy) successfully adapted to the distribution of the road book just before the start. The Spanish driver takes his first stage win of the rally, while the man he narrowly beat today, Nasser Al-Attiya continues to lead overall, 17’21” ahead of Stephane Peterhansel.
The start of stage 3 this morning for the FIM and FIA categories was a first. The road books were distributed 20 minutes before the depart for FIM bikes-quads and five minutes before for the FIA cars. The competitors set off for ‘unchartered territory’ with varying degrees of success.
The stage was devised into three timed sections for the FIA cars, for a total of 363 kilometres. The FIM bikes-quads finally only raced two of the specials, totalling 291 kilometres, with the last part being cancelled for safety reasons. The Enduro Cup Afriquia, SSV Maroc Telecom and Open cars-trucks raced two specials of 121 and 148 kilometres.
FIM BIKES-QUADS: PRICE PULLS OFF THE DOUBLE
Eighth overall this morning, Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Racing Factory) had an excellent day, as not only did he win the second half of the Super-Marathon stage, at the same time he jumped up to the top of the overall leader board of the 2019 Rallye du Maroc. The Yamahas of Adrien Van Beveren, ill since the start of the rally and of Xavier De Soultrait, engine broken at kilometre 347, didn’t make it to the finish line. Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda Team), winner of the first part of the Super-Marathon stage, got lost after having opened the track this morning. The day after the retirement of Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team’s moral improved considerably, with Matthias Walkner joining his Australian teammate at the top of the rankings, 4’06” behind the leader.
In the quad category it was a closely fought battle between Alex Dutrie (Drag’on) and Ignacio Casale (Drag’on) with the Frenchman beating his Chilean teammate by just 4”. Rafal Sonik (Sonik Team) was third, only 30” behind. The Chilean’s Dakar preparation is thus going perfectly according to plan. Overall Ignacio Casale (Drag’on) is 36’35” ahead Rafal Sonik (Sonik Team) and 42’35” in front of Kamil Wisniewski (Wisniewski Team).
Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
“I tried to preserve the tyre a little bit yesterday and preserve the bike a bit. To have the last 75 kilometres cancelled is quite frustrating as I still had quite good tyres, I had a good bike. I could have made more time at the end and then again I could have got lost… So frustrating but still a good day and we’ve made some time. Tomorrow I’ll be at the front and everyone will catch me. A bit of cat and mouse.”
Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
“It was a really long day and really hard navigation. Everybody must have got really lost because I was sure I’d lost about 15 minutes because I made two really big mistakes and in the end I have finished quite well. A tough day but the result is not so bad.”
Franco Caimi (Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team)
“Yes it was a good day. A day to really take care of the bike and also of ourselves because the tyres were destroyed and to end the stage was a big challenge. But I navigated OK and am really happy to be here at the end this marathon stage. Not easy.”
Johnny Aubert (Sherco TVS Rally Factory)
“A good day, a nice special to ride. My tyre was in reasonable condition and I was able to maintain a good pace throughout the day. Felt a bit more confident with the navigation and the changes they have made (road book in the morning) maybe even things out a little for me.”
Ignacio Casale (Drag’on)
“I’m very happy to be here in Morocco. It was a very hard and long stage and I hope tomorrow is another good day for me. Today was difficult navigation but good for me and I’m happy with the result. This race is very important for me to prepare my Dakar. I test my new quad and I’m very happy with the work Drag’on team have done.”
Adrien Van Beveren (Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team)
“I started to get sick 2 days before the rally. Yesterday I felt better but now I feel bad again. If we were on a Dakar I might have continued but given the risks we take it isn’t worth continuing. If I feel better tomorrow I’ll restart.
Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
“Obviously I’m super disappointed to be out of the race. After winning stage 1 I was opening stage 2 when, at about km 200, I high-sided when the back end broke away. Now I’ve got a big bruise on my leg and I’ll need to get my elbow checked out when I get home. Very disappointing for the team and myself – luckily the championship is all wrapped up.”
FIA CARS: FIRST WIN FOR THE TEAM X-RAID JOHN COOPER WORKS TEAM
Carlos Sainz (X-Raid John Cooper Works Team) is looking better and better in his two-wheel drive Mini buggy. ‘El Matador’ wins the third stage of the 2019 Rallye du Maroc ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) who had the difficult task of opening the track today. The five times winner of the race finished 29” behind the Spanish driver. Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid John Cooper Works Team) was third after having led the race for part of the day. The stage saw more problems for Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing). The Spaniard broke his front axle at kilometre 75 but made it to the end of the first special before being taken back to the bivouac by his assistance. The decision of whether or not to continue the race will be taken by his team this evening. His teammate Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota Gazoo Racing), fifth overall this morning was caught out by the same hole as the Spaniard and didn’t finish the stage. Overall Nasser Al-Attiya maintain his lead with De Villiers second (at 17’21”) and Peterhansel third (at 17’51”).
Carlos Sainz (X-Raid John Cooper Works Team)
“All good , no big problems. I think we did a good stage. Normally it should be a stage win. We just have to see what they do about the waypoint at the end.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
“A long day with the new road book system, with us receiving it in the morning. So we were really careful and we didn’t really make any mistakes because it is not easy to open without having seem the road book before. We went slowly and we knew we were losing time and then over the last 70 kilometres we pushed to try and win the stage.”
Stéphane Peterhansel (X-Raid John Cooper Works Team)
“The navigation was a bit complicated but globally the new system didn’t seem to have too much of an impact on the speeds compared with before. There were however not enough compass headings and it was occasionally a little complicated for the navigation. So they need to look at that a bit more closely, give us more information.”
Jakub Przygonski (Orlen Team / X-Raid)
“Today the stage was really nice because it was a new region, nice to drive because less holes and dangers compared to yesterday. We were in one group today with Nasser, Stephane, De Villiers. Timo (Jakub’s co-driver) didn’t make any mistakes and we enjoyed racing together.”
Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
“We couldn’t repair the car where we were, the suspension was broken, so we had no choice but to call our assistance. Our team is looking at the damage and we will see if we can restart tomorrow. It is how it is in rally-raid. I am not injured.”
ENDURO CUP AFRIQUIA / SSV MAROC TELECOM / CARS OPEN / TRUCKS OPEN: FLICK AND VALTR STILL LEADING LEADERS, LAVIEILLE AND CURRIE SUFFER
In the Enduro Cup Afriquia, Xavier Flick (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) continues to increase his lead overall. The Sherco rider takes his third win on the trot. Damien Miquel-Orlandi (RS Concept CBO) finishes second at 36’33’’, followed by Guillaume Borne (Team Maroc) at 36’40’’.
Martin Macik (Big Shock Racing) wins the Open trucks in his Iveco, ahead Jaroslav Valtr (Valtr Racing Team) at 13’56’, but is a long way back overall.
The overall leader of the SSV category Casey Currie (Monster Enegy Can-Am) lost a lot of time today. The American was only 9th 45’34’’ behind the day’s winner, Antonio Hinojo Lopez (Buggy Masters Team & XRaid). François Charliat (Baninga Ya Desert) and Vincent Gonzales (El Blanco Rosso Racing Team) finished second and third respectively at 19’20’’ and 19’52’’.
Christian Lavieille (Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body) lost all chance of winning the car open category after stopping at km 58 with mechanical problems. The Frenchman will start tomorrow so as to finalise preparation of his car for Dakar 2020. Jean-Antoine Sabatier (Bugga’One) took advantage of Christian Lavieille’s problems to win the stage and take the overall lead ahead of Enrique Martinez Casanovas, second today at 2’07’’ and Bernard Gateau, third at 1h14’07’’. Souad Mouktadiri and Firdouass Al-Fannane (Mouktadiri Racing Team), the Morocco female team finished fourth.
The last stage around the bivouac of Aoufous will be a mix of stony tracks, sandy oueds, dunes, fast pistes and camel grass – pretty much everything that can be found in the region. Following a liaison of 67 km, the FIM / FIA competitors will race 408 km and 30 km of liaison, while the Enduro Cup / SSV / Open categories will have ‘only’ 311 km of special before heading back to the bivouac via 89 km of liaison.