Expecting fierce competition from VW
The AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team will begin its challenge for honours in this year's Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco tomorrow (Tuesday), when the French pairing of Guerlain Chicherit and Mattieu Baumel team up with Qatar's Nasser Saleh
Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Alain Guehennec in a pair of Trebur-built BMW X3CCs.
The two X-Raid teams face fierce competition from the Volkswagen Motorsport trio of former WRC champion Carlos Sainz, last year's Rally of Morocco winner Giniel de Villiers and American Mark Miller, while Brazilian Paulo Nobre and co-driver Filipe Palmeiro will drive a third X-Raid X3CC, as they bid to become the second BMW crew in four years to clinch the prestigious FIA World Cup. Other competition come from the likes of Portugal's Carlos Sousa in a fourth VW Touareg and Dominique Housieaux and Jose-Luis Monterde in a pair of Buggies.
“This is a test rally for us for next year,” said X-Raid Team Manager Sven Quandt. “We have obtained permission to run both Nasser and Guerlain in 2008 specification for this event and Paolo will run normally. We are not ready for the Dakar yet and this will be a good chance to test components and get the car specifications as we want them. It is important that our drivers reach the finish, so there will not be any undue risk taking.”
This year's Moroccan event has taken on a more compact format, with the majority of the competitive action being centred around Zagora – a popular venue for professional teams tackling test and development programmes throughout the summer months in readiness for the Dakar Rally.
Monday was spent carrying out routine administration and technical checks on the cars at the Hotel Riad Salam, before the road book for the opening leg was distributed on Monday evening.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 25th), the X-Raid team will tackle the first of six timed selective sections. The varied 255km stage will start a mere two kilometres from Zagora and run for 245km, between Zagora airport and the dunes at Nakhla, before finishing just eight kilometres from the overnight halt.
The organising NPO team insist that the selective will consist of around 30km of fast gravel, 100km of stony terrain, 30km of rougher road surfaces and 80km of smoother and faster gravel.
There will be a passage control at the 133km point. The stage crosses twisty and stony terrain before joining the Djebel Bani Al Foun Anagan and heading in the direction of Wadi Araroum and a hill at 1,074 metres above sea level. Cars will pass a mining area, several villages, a track between two mountains and a difficult hill descent before arriving at the stage finish at the foot of the dunes in Nakhla, which was used as a bivouac in 2006.
This year's compact Moroccan event is scheduled to finish in Ouarzazate on Sunday, September 30th. In a route of 2,299km, there will be 1,730 competitive kilometres and 569km of liaison sections.