The Morocco Rally or, to give it its proper, not often used in the West name, the OiLibya Rallye du Maroc is a six-day, 1300-mile off-road race that takes place through parts of the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert. Not to diminish its own difficulty, but the race is largely used by major teams as a dry run for the Dakar, being shorter in duration, distance and closer to Europe, where most rally teams are based. Here’s 24 stunning photos from the rally on its 5th day, along with some interesting background material.
Here’s a large-format route map. As you can see, this rally’s more about doing some racing than it is covering distances or checking off countries.
The big news this year is the return of Honda to rally racing with the CRF450 Rally. Here’s an in-depth video walk around of the bike. The team is experiencing teething problems in Africa. Its big name, Helder Rodrigues, was given a 14 hour penalty after failing to complete yesterday’s stage due to reliability issues. Despite placing 2nd in today’s stage, he’s now 42nd overall. Honda’s top placed rider is now Felipe Zanol, who sits in 7th overall but only finished today in 14th after a navigational error. The team’s problem doesn’t seem to be speed, the bikes are keeping up with the top KTMs, when they’re working and when their riders can stay on course.
Johnny Campbell’s experience today sounds typical of a team working out problems with new bikes in the field. “When we entered the Erg, I came over a dune and the front wheel went in a hole and I fell over,” explains Campbell. “As I picked up the bike, I tried to restart but there was no spark, so I had to take off the seat and the fuel tank and I found a broken cable. I fixed the problem and rejoined the race. I lost a lot of time, arriving at the first CP with almost 45 minutes delay.”
As expected, it’s KTM’s Cyril Despres leading the rally going into tomorrow’s final stage. He’s 5 minutes ahead of Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda.