Good start of MDC for Maikel Smits
The first stage of the Morocco Desert Challenge for the bikes was won by Mario Patrao (105). The Portuguese rider managed to overtake Maikel Smits (103) just before the finish of the 77 kilometres long stage, on the beach of Plage Blanche.
Mario Patrao, winner in motorbike (POR/KTM)
I enjoyed this prologue; it was a very good stage and I really like this kind of stage. The bike is perfect, everything went well with it. Sometimes the visibility was not so good but I could find my way and ride very fast on the beach.
The Dutchman Maikel Smits had passed the two Belgians that had started ahead of him, first Gilles Vanderweyen (102), who therefore finished in third, and Olivier Scheen (101). Smits thus finished in second.
Maikel Smits: “I had to get used to the speed again, and the stones. Quite early in the stage there was a more technical part, which slippery stones. That is why I was a bit conservative in the beginning. At about 25 kilometres in the stage, I made a small mistake in navigation. I didn’t understand immediately what the road book maker meant and went right a bit too early, but I came to the right track right after. The second part of the stage went through a riverbed and some little ditches filled with water. Very nice and funny to ride through. I am quite satisfied. It was a better start than I had hoped for, just because I was so careful in the beginning. A good start.”
Michael Becx, winner in cars (NED/Mitjet)
We had a very good start in the competition with this prologue, it was 77 kilometres of pleasure, we enjoyed every second of it. The navigation was perfect and it was especially on the beach during the last 20 kilometres. We are very happy to be here and cannot wait to go on tomorrow!
Pelle Moens, winner in SSV (NED/Can-Am)
Everything is wet in the vehicle, we lost the navigation because of the water during the last 40 kilometres! Anyway, it was a very nice opening stage. Last year we were beginners and could not finish the race because we broke something in the sand and had to give up. This year we are here for the price! And to enjoy of course… I have the best navigator with me, it was tricky at some point but we managed to finish first. It is a very good beginning!
Defending champion Cars, Tomas Ourednicek, abandon (Ford Ranger South Racing)
I was so happy to be back here after the winning last year. Everything was perfect during the stage, it was a wonderful one, one of the best we could dream of, but just a few meters before the finish line it turned very badly. When the car began to flip, I crossed my arms thinking that it will stopped quickly, but it did not… When it finally ended, I saw that David was ok and could get out of the car easily. I turned off the engine and went out too, I am glad that we are fine tonight. I am celebrating life even if my heart is broken, just like the car… I cannot think of the future for the moment but I still want to stay in the rally just to enjoy the atmosphere and Morocco.
Michiel Becx- 304: “Because this car is not built for rally raids like this one, I was a bit scared about the stones and rocks, but it went well. The final part was ideal for us: 25 kilometres flat out on the beach, that is what this buggy is made for. It was not a hard stage, nor too long – just 77 kilometres – but it had everything in it. There were so many water crossings, and deep ones too, that my pockets were soaking wet. To get used to everything again, this was a perfect stage. Nice for a starter, with a good result as well.”
Janus van Kasteren takes his chance in MDC
It’s not unusual to have a Mammoet Rallysport truck in the number 1 spot in the Morocco Desert Challenge. But it was a surprise that it was not Martin van den Brink but his team mate Janus van Kasteren jr. Van Kasteren (508) was way faster than number 2, Ales Loprais (506) and Van den Brink (501) in third. The faster trucks had no problems in the first stage, of just 77 kilometres, around Plage Blanche. The trucks further back did have problems and got stuck in the water crossings that got deeper and deeper by each crossing truck. A few of them were still stuck late in the evening. Because of these problems the crossings were cut out of the second stage.
Janus van Kasteren: “Once I was afraid I would get stuck as well. I saw a bunch of cars stuck and I put the pedal to the metal to get through. I didn’t hold back for one moment today. I really wanted to finish as far to the front as possible, in order to start in front in the second stage and stay out of trouble. It was a good idea to have a first stage of just 77 kilometres. For my navigator Erwin van den Bosch it was the first time in this truck. That does matter as this Renault is much faster than the DAF we used to compete with. For a copilot the speed is a huge difference. Now that we won, we will have to open the second stage, which is new as well, but I’m confident he will do fine.”