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Storms and Stars at Erfoud
Morocco : Scrutineering
Today's technical and administrative checks took place in a radiantly sunny and cheerful atmosphere for the opening of this Rallye ORPI Maroc 2006. The FIA World Cup and FIM World Championship for Cross Country Rallies' brightest stars have been actively
preparing themselves for tomorrow's first stage (out of six) out in Southern Morocco's blazing heat.
An impressive set… Peterhansel-Cottret, Roma-Magne, Masuoka-Maimon (Mitsubishi Pajero), de Villiers-Von Zitzewitz, Sainz-Périn (VW Race Touareg II), Schlesser-Borsotto (Buggy Ford), Sousa-Schulz (VW Race Touareg II) and many other star teams treaded the halls and grounds of Erfoud's Belere hotel, host to the scrutineering day of the Rallye ORPI Maroc 2006. The sun is back and all are making ready for tomorrow's start of what promises to be a particularly tough competition for the top places.

Three 'Mitsu's up against three 'vw's – Peterhansel, victor of the recent Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie versus de Villiers, triumphant in the Transiberico and current leader of the World Cup. Who could imagine a more challenging duel? Unperturbed by the storms that hit the area a few days ago and which have led Cyril Neveu and his team to redesign large parts of the first three stages, the current favourites are impatient for Wednesday to come and the six-day fight in the desert to begin. For all, speed is the only option for these 2.268 kilometres cut up into six stages (of which two loops), but the weather has without warning added extra spice and "improved" the terrain. Beware then of excess confidence in an area usually familiar to factory drivers coming there for developement tests.

And what if those outside the regular teams came up with trumps? Look out for Gache and Vandromme's powerful SMG buggies and Russia's Shmakov and his Zil Buggy. In the T2 production class it's up to Christian Lavieille (Nissan Pathfinder) – also the winner in Tunisia and on the Transiberico in his category – to battle against the Mercedes ML of Team SDO Competition (particularly the one driven by Pascal Thomasse – Maze Sencier's car got a bit hurt on its journey to Erfoud). And keep an eye on the fight looming ahead between the ladies, in particular between Isabelle Patissier (France, Buggy Mitsubishi), Madalena Antas (Portgual, Nissan Pickup Promotech) and Corentine Quiniou (France, Toyota Landcruiser).

On two wheels the Rallye ORPI Maroc 2006 probably offers the first truly complete set on the African soil this year, unheard of since the last 'Dakar'. The Spaniard Marc Coma (Team KTM Repsol) and France's Cyril Despres (Team KTM Gauloises) will be out on the brand new KTM bike after its first victorious outing in Tunisia at the hands of Isidre Esteve. With the two teams entirely assembled – Chris Blais (US) and Jordi Villadoms for Repsol, Michel Gau, Esteve and David Casteu for Gauloises, Coma and Despres are once again preparing themselves for a tough battle in the Moroccan desert.
In the 450cc category nobody's left out as the Franco-Uruguayen Laurent Lazard (KTM), currently first in the World Championship rankings will have to fight dearly if he wants to resist the likes of Poland's Czachor (KTM), Italy's Polli (KTM) but also formidable Chilian Francisco Lopez (Honda CRF) and Portuguese Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha WRF), the 'Dakar's latest revelation.

And to crown it all in the quads which this year counts for almost a third of the set, expect Christophe Declerck (Yamaha Raptor 700) and Hubert Deltrieu (Polaris Outlaw) to give each other a very tough time!
Press Release Neveu Pelletier Organisation

     Mitsubishi plans three-pronged Moroccan challenge
     Nissan Aventure out to conquer the Kingdom of Morocco !
     Last year's winner Volkswagen with Sainz and de Villiers
     Phoenix Sport launches Dakar project with Volkswagen
     Giniel de Villiers: “We pushed to the finish for the win”
     Brillant victory for Christian Lavieille in the T2 category
     De Villiers and Volkswagen win Rally Transiberico
     Roma loses thrilling rally in final kilometers
     Volkswagen finishes third and sixth in prologue
     Mitsubishi holds first and fourth after opening stage

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