Five stages, four bivouacs and one ferocious battle through the sands and tracks of Morocco will make up 1,575 of the competitive stage kilometres of the 2022 Rallye du Maroc that started this afternoon. FIA World Rally Raid Championship leaders Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin in their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter were first to leave the start line for the 9 kilometres of what was essentially a prologue before the event gets into full swing tomorrow.
Loeb/Lurquin took third on the stage, just 13 seconds off the victory which considering the pair opened the stage was an impressive run. Backing up the speed of the Prodrive Hunter were Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq in their first time against the clock with the car just two seconds behind Loeb. Equally strong were Orlando Terranova and Alex Haro crossing the line just seven seconds behind the nine-time World Rally Champion.
Tomorrow sees 322 kilometres stage as the event heads south from Agadir to Tan-Tan venturing back into Dakar Rally territory that was last used in 2007 where the landscape is expected to open out for the drivers.
The Rallye du Maroc is the third round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship that has included the Dakar in January, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March, Rallye du Maroc and then the Andalucia Rally that will take place from October 18-23.
We were first car on the road so we had to find the best way but at the end we had a very good stage with the car. Nasser was very fast as always in a prologue but we did a good, clean stage so we’re happy with today. The choice of the starting positions tomorrow is tricky as we know the navigation will be hard so being first on the road is a bit ‘dangerous’. However, on the other side of the coin being behind some slower cars can also be risky because it’ll be dusty so we’ll make a plan right now.
Overall it was fantastic and a good feeling for the start of this rally. It was a difficult stage for navigation, quite tricky in fact, as at some places we lost the perfect way so we had to try to find again the main track but the speed was very good with the Prodrive Hunter.
I knew what to expect because I’ve been testing the car but actually on a rally stage…well, you never know but it’s always good to be against the clock so then you really know where you are. I was very impressed with how the car handled because the road was really very rough; it was like a disaster area. I was ninth on the road but the eight cars in front of me destroyed the stage. It was insane with stones bigger than the tyres sat in the middle of the road so I decided to not push too much and finish the stage. Besides, the rally really starts tomorrow.
Gus Beteli. BRX Team Principal
It’s good to get the three cars on the way after a long gap since Abu Dhabi and then testing but it’s great to see as the whole BRX team has put in so much work so it’s great to have the cars back here tonight in good positions and in one piece.
Al Attiyah/Baumel. Toyota
Al Rajhi/Von Zitzewitz Toyota. +8 secs
Loeb/Lurquin Prodrive Hunter. +13 secs
Chicherit/Winocq Prodrive Hunter. +15 secs
Terranova/Haro. Prodrive Hunter +20 secs
Van Loon/Delaunay Toyota. +25 secs
Prokop/Chytka Ford +30 secs
Rosa/Bianchi Toyota +38 secs
Quintero/Zenz G Rally T3 +41 secs
Yacopini/Oliveras Toyota +44 secs
- ENDS -
For more information please contact:
BRX Media Manager
t: +44 7860 145035
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Bahrain Raid Xtreme
A joint partnership between the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prodrive the British motorsport and engineering group formed the joint venture Prodrive International in 2020. Building on Prodrive’s extensive experience in developing championship winning race and rally cars, its aim is design and manufacture cars to compete in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Raid Championship. BRX achieved the best finishing position, 5 with Nani Roma on debut in 2021, and 2 with Sebastien Loeb in 2021. Its Hunter cars run Prodrive EcoPower, a sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste by BRX team partner Coryton. The fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to standard fuel.
Prodrive is one of the world’s largest and most successful motorsport and technology businesses. Over 500 staff are employed across its Banbury headquarters and composites manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes. While the company is perhaps best known for motorsport, today it is just one part of an organisation that in the last decade has diversified to become a technology business working in a range of sectors and providing a range of services. Within the Prodrive Group, there are four distinct but interconnected business areas: Motorsport, operating race and rally programmes for vehicle manufacturers and global brands; Advanced Technology, providing innovative technology for the automotive, aerospace, defence, and marine sectors; Composites, developing lightweight composite components for the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors; and Brand& developing bespoke clothing and accessories for leading brands.
About Guerlain Chicherit
Born on 20 May 1978, Guerlain Chicherit made a name for himself in the 2000s as four-time freeride ski world champion. In 2005 he finished 49th in his first Dakar rally. The following year he climbed 40 places, and was fifth in 2020, his best result so far, including a stage win. In 2009 he won the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, taking the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi and the Transibérico along the way. After a six-year hiatus, he came back with his own outfit – GCK Motorsport – and a plan to win the Dakar with a zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2027.
About GCK Motorsport
Founded in 2017 by Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport showed excellent potential from the start with several podium places in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2020 the team joined Green Corp Konnection (GCK), a group of industrial companies promoting innovative technologies for greener mobility. The racing arm of the group is a test bed for the ground-breaking solutions, serving to prove their reliability and high-performance in gruelling real-life conditions. One of the group’s targets is to be the first to win the Dakar with a hydrogen-powered car.