Morocco : Nissan Aventure - Preview
The ORPI Morocco Rally will be the fourth round of the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, and the second, after Tunisia, to take place on African soil. For Team Nissan Aventure, this will be the perfect opportunity to take the lead in
the overall classification of the Production category. Currently equal on points with Jean Pierre Strugo (who is likely to miss Morocco), Christian Lavieille and Arnaud Debron are well aware of what is at stake, and of the fine opportunity they have to pull out a good lead.
Having recently won the T2 category in Portugal, finishing 8th overall, Team Nissan Aventure is aiming to continue its run of good performances during their participation in the ORPI Morocco rally. This year, the rally will see a change of route. In the last two years, the start had taking place in the seaside resort of Agadir. This time, like in 2003, Erfoud will be the starting point for the rally, near the famous Merzouga dunes and the redoubtable Erg Chebbi. The finish will take place in Ouarzazate, on Monday June 5th, after having covered a distance of 2 300km. 2006 looks like being a vintage year, with a great variety of difficulties. Sand, rough terrain and winding routes through the High Atlas mountains are all on the programme, which should satisfy even the most exacting. Some sections will nevertheless be familiar to a number of the drivers, as they are regularly used in the Dakar.
In the T2 category, despite the absence of Christian Lavieille's main rival, Jean Pierre Strugo, the field is of an extremely high level. But like in Portugal, to have any hopes of a win, they will have to get the better of the patience, perseverance and experience of Team Nissan Aventure.
Christian Lavieille is serene : « Our victory in Portugal did the whole team a lot of good. It was not simple to win a rally where there were so many local competitors, all extremely familiar with that sort of event. It allowed us to score full points, and to advance in the world classification, as we are now joint leaders. We have, to some extent, brought everything back to the starting point, and now we have an opportunity to pull away. With Morocco, we have gone back to a ‘traditional' rally raid. It is hard on the vehicles, which means we will have to take care of the mechanical side all the time. There are some real difficulties in store, and Morocco is renowned for its varied routes. But I am confident. I have come to grips with the Pathfinder, and I enjoy driving it. Moreover, with Arnaud alongside me, I am full of confidence, and if there are any navigational traps, I know I can count on his skills as an ‘old desert fox' to avoid them…”
This is certainly not Arnaud Debron's first African rally, and navigation holds no secrets for him : « It's true that Portugal, from the navigator's seat, was not exactly exhilarating… In Morocco, I'll be back in my element. Navigation is important in this event, and the navigator's input takes on another dimension. You also have to take serious responsibility for the choices you make. You have to make the right decisions in order to avoid taking the wrong path and losing precious minutes … The start of the rally will be along tracks we used during the last Dakar, but I'm not sure if that will be an advantage. This is not a circuit – the terrain can change from one week to the next in Africa. »
As far as Team Dessoude is concerned, the few days between Portugal and Morocco were used in order to bring the Nissan Pathfinder up to optimal condition. And
ré Dessoude knows the Rally of Morocco well. During the last two years, his Pathfinders have claimed victory in the T2 category. «This event has smiled on us during the last two events. In 2004, Isabelle Patissier scored precious points towards her world title. Last year, we managed a one-two with Serguey Sukhovenko and Benoît Rousselot. I hope that Christian and Arnaud will be as lucky. Morocco is a difficult rally, very tough on the cars. Every day is extremely wearing on the both the crew and the car. The terrain is usually quite varied, which means that the main aim is to prepare a car that will be as versatile as possible. Since we got back from Portugal, we have done our best to prepare Christian's Pathfinder for what lies ahead. But once more, I would like to underline how careful Christian is with the vehicle. Very few drivers are as careful as he is with the material, which allows the mechanics to work with increased pleasure and to concentrate on the details, which often makes the difference.»
The rally will start on Wednesday May 31st, with a 266 km timed stage around Erfoud. The first contact with the tracks and the first difficulties, with the Merzouga dunes.
Press Release Nissan Aventure