D-1: Audi and the amateurs, the charm of rallye-raid


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Agadir, 30 September







1st – 6th October 2022














© Rallye du Maroc – DPPI

© Rallye du Maroc – DPPI






The return to the track of the Audi factory team with their new generation ‘Dakar ready’ RS Q e-tron is already turning heads in Agadir and all eyes will be on them at the qualifying stage tomorrow. Alongside them and the other factory teams for five stages, more than two hundred amateurs will be racing from bivouac to bivouac, in the grand tradition of rally-raid.







All eyes on Audi

Since Dakar last January Audi has only entered one race with their ground-breaking RS Q e-tron, back in March at the second round of the W2RC on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.  With ‘Mister Dakar’ behind the wheel the car chalked up its first victory, second time out. Since then the German team has been working behind the scenes on the development of a second generation car for the next Dakar: the RS Q e-tron Evo2 will make its first race appearance tomorrow in the hands of its three official crews. Rally raid fans around the world are keenly awaiting their confrontation with their T1+ rivals Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and Sébastien Loeb (Barhain Raid Xtreme), the two leaders of the last Dakar and the current leaders of the world championship, who have been engaged in a Titanesque duel since the beginning of the season. However, with the three Audis competing in a different category on the Rallye du Maroc, due to the Evo2’s avant-garde configuration, Peterhansel cautions against jumping to too many conclusions…

“Before this rally we spent ten days testing in Morocco and for us this race is a continuation of that test session. We have done 4000 km, we will do another 1500 km here, a total of 5500 km, that’s not bad. We have a car that is ready for the 2023 Dakar, which will be subject to new regulations. We can’t play with our friends from the world championship because our car doesn’t fit into the 2022 regulations. It’s not a question of performance, it’s just that we have a tank that is twenty litres bigger. So, we are in a category called Open. We will start behind the others and we will not be classified. It’s a bit strange to start a race knowing that you are not going to be classified, I think it’s the first time, but the priority remains the Dakar. There will be a real fight at the front because the world championship is between Loeb and Al Attiyah. We can always make comparisons, but we must know that we will never be in a position to win, so theoretically we should be well behind them. In addition to having a different fuel tank, we are already driving in 2023 configuration with less power than cars like Nasser Al Attiyah’s and Sebastien Loeb’s. So theoretically, on paper at least, we are less efficient. We want to validate our car right away in its true Dakar 2023 configuration with effectively less power.”


Morocco, a land of discovery for rally-raid

The 22nd edition of the Rallye du Maroc exceeds last year’s record number of entries and the amateurs are a big part of it. Among the 235 vehicles and 342 competitors in the race, 36 nations will be represented. In FIA, 23 T1s and as many T4s are expected, including the stars of the W2RC. The T3s will be the biggest category with 27 Light Prototypes. 2 T2 will be present. Outside the FIA ranking, 4 Open cars will be competing, including the three official Audis. 12 Open SSV Maroc Telecom will complete this list and once again shows that the T3, T4 and Open SSV categories are attracting ever more participants to rally-raid. In total, 62 of these new generation four-wheelers will start tomorrow.  In T5, after the two trucks of 2021, they will be 9 tomorrow leaving on the big southern loop as preparation of the next Dakar.

The FIM motorcycles and quads will represent more than half of the vehicles entered in the race. 13 quads will be at the start, including the winners of the last two Dakars. Behind the 14 factory riders present, 109 bikes will be at the start. Among them, the Rally 2 entries, but also, for the first time this season on the W2RC the new Rally 3 category will make an appearance. The Enduro Cup Afriquia, (called from now Rally 3 Enduro Cup Afriquia )which has been a feature of the Rally of Morocco for a few years now, has been so popular that the FIM has decided to dedicate a category to it, which will be contested over the last two rounds of the world championship. These enduro bikes equipped with rally-raid instrumentation are the gateway to the Rally 2 category. But already the attraction of a title recognized at world level by the FIM is attracting new competitors to the discipline (see quote).



Supported by the three major national partners of the Rallye du Maroc, OCP, Maroc Telecom and Afriquia, a group of specially selected Moroccan competitors will be racing here under the ART banner. For some, it will be their very first experience. Others have considerably more experience, like Amine Echiguer, the winner of the Enduro Cup Afriquia category for his first participation in 2021, or Ali Oukerbouch and Souad Mouktadiri who will discover the Open SSV Maroc Telecom category. Harite Gabari, the godfather of the rally-raid scene in the Kingdom will also make his four-wheel debut. The  Agadir based competitor was for ten years the only ‘local’ rider entered on the Rally du Maroc, chalking up a total 11 participations. Things started to change last year. In Morocco, but also on the Dakar on which he has raced 4 times and where for the first time this year two other Moroccan competitors who’d raced on the Rally of Morocco in 2021 entered: “The ART program set up is exceptional. I wish I’d had this when I started out! Too many Moroccans have a block when it comes to rally-raid. In Erfoud, some candidates had never seen a road book, it was a total discovery. Without this help, they would never have tried the discipline. In addition to the psychological brake, there is also the financial aspect. By offering the entry fee and the rental of the safety equipment, this initiative has opened up the sport completely”. This summer, after an identification phase carried out by the Moroccan federations, 16 pilots were invited to Erfoud for an unprecedented trial. David Castera himself, along with Isabelle Patissier and a doctor were waiting for them with road books, safety and navigation equipment for a real ‘master class’ in the dunes of Merzouga. At the end of these three days, 5 bikers and 2 SSV crews were selected to be part of the Africa Rally Team. In the end, only 4 bikers will be at the start.

Ali Oukerbouch in Rally 2 and the Enduro Cup Afriquia title holder Amine Echiguer in Rally3  accompanied by ‘rookies’ Hamza El Ouahal and Moad Sahli, an injury having ruled out the fifth selected candidate. After Cyril Despres last year, it is Nani Roma who will be at their side this week to support them with his experience. Straight after the next Dakar the 2023 ART selection process will begin.



In 1982, three years after the first Paris-Dakar the Paris-Agadir saw the light of day. The first rally raid held in Morocco was the next year renamed the Rally de l’Atlas and would run until the end of the 1990s. In its wake appeared in 2000 the Rallye du Maroc. 40 years later the international rally caravan is once again back in Agadir. The last time was in 2016 with the finish in Erfoud. Sunday the rally will be heading to Tan Tan where the last African Dakar night-stopped 15 years ago. Since 2018 the Rallye du Maroc has adopted the Southern Cross as its symbol with the slogan: the essence of rally raid. The 22nd edition has taken inspiration from the four decades shared with the Kingdom of Morocco.



Stéphane Peterhansel: “We’re 90kg less than last year’s car but on the other hand we have lost the equivalent of 30 horsepower, so in terms of performance it should be more or less the same. While working on the weight we changed the bodywork which made it more aerodynamic. There’s a little less air resistance from 100 km/h, the car feels lighter and this helps us gain small tenths every time we accelerate between 100 and 170 km/h. Those are the main changes made for the Evo2.”


Amine Echiguer (OCP Group): “This year the Rally 3 Enduro Cup Afriquia category is part of the W2RC and I intend to seize the opportunity to participate in this championship. So ideally I will also be at the start of the Andalucía Rally. But I have seen the list of participants, including an Indian Sherco rider, and I know that I am not the only one who has this in mind. The goal is then to participate in 2023 in Rally 2 races before entering the 2024 Dakar.”



Saturday 1 October: Leg 1A – Agadir – Agadir (liaison: 49 km / SS: 9 km / total: 58 km)

·         07.00 – 10.30: administrative checks (Agadir Stadium)

·         08.30 – 12.00: technical scrutineering (Agadir Stadium)

·         13.45/15.55: 1st Rally 3/RallyGP competitor on Qualifying Stage

·         16.54: 1st FIA competitor on Qualifying Stage

·         19.00: first 15 FIM competitors of the Qualifying Stage choose their start position for SS1B (Agadir Stadium)

·         19.30: first 10 FIA competitors of the Qualifying Stage choose their start position for SS1B (Agadir Stadium)

·         20.00: publication of the start order for SS1B







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Matthieu Perez – media@rallyedumaroc.com



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