Preparations for Team HRC’s final assault are in full swing as the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship 2014 heads into it’s final stretch with the OiLibya Rally of Morocco. Team HRC have several objectives in mind; their top priority being that of Paulo Gonçalves, who is in the running for the world title.

Paulo Gonçalves, Joan Barreda, and Hélder Rodrigues line up alongside new Team HRC arrivals Jeremías Israel and Laia Sanz for the OiLibya Rally of Morocco 2014 which gets underway this weekend. The five Team HRC components have already been putting the Honda CRF450 RALLY through its paces on Moroccan soil this week prior to the scrutineering and technical checks which habitually mark the start of the race.

Incumbent world champion Paulo Gonçalves has performed well thus far in the World Rally-Raids season, and lies in second place on the overall leader-board just ten points off current leader Marc Coma. Gonçalves, though, will have his work cut out as he looks for a repeat of last year’s Morocco adventure which saw him secure the championship laurels. The Portuguese rider will be looking to maintain the high level of riding that he has exhibited so far in the championship, especially in the desert events such as Dhabi and Qatar.

For Joan Barreda and Hélder Rodrigues, participation in the OiLibya Rally of Morocco is the final stepping stone in preparation for the season’s ultimate goal; the Rally Dakar 2015. Team HRC’s top two in the Dakar 2014 will use Morocco to fine-tune the Honda CRF450 RALLY in the run-up to the great South American challenge which takes place on 4th January 2015.

Worth pointing out too, is the debut of the team’s newcomers, Chilean Jeremías Israel and Spaniard Laia Sanz. For these two, the pre-Dakar is even more important than for the other Team HRC team members who have already been able to take part in several of this season’s races. It will be the first outing for Israel after the serious fall that he suffered in the Dakar 2014, as well as being the first chance for champion Laia to participate in a World Rally-Raids race.

Today, Friday, was the day of scrutineering and technical checks held in the surrounds of Erfoud’s Hotel Belère. Needless to say, the bikes, riders, mechanics, and the rest of the Team HRC got through the test without any setbacks.

The OiLybia Rally of Morocco action gets underway tomorrow October 4, with the first of the six stages that form part of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship 2014. The race departs from Erfoud, and the stage will cover 321 kilometres, 276 of which are against the clock. Riders can look forward to their first contact with sand and dunes, although a large part of the special will be run over fast track. This will require particularly strict attention to navigation, and care not to misinterpret the roadbook.

 

Tomorrow’s Stage:

Stage 1 – Erfoud-Damia

Liaison: 27km   Special Stage: 276km   Liaision: 17km

Navigation will be at the program of this first stage of the OiLibya Rally of Morocco 2014. A sandy leg, with a departure to the south on fast but treacherous tracks to join the service located in Merzouga. Competitors will face their first dunes crossing in the Erg Chebbi then up the sandy oued in which they will have to find the difficult exit. Take care of kilometers with the roadbook. You will have to stay focused for the last part of the stage that will run on fast tracks but where navigation will remain very active.

Private: Katsumi Yamazaki

Team HRC Large Project Leader

"Team preparations are going very well so far. Now, the riders conditions are very good. The machine set up is great as well. We have passed the scrutineering without problems, and we’re ready for the start of the competition. We have 26 staff here, from 7 nationalities. This is fantastic for us. I’m looking forward to the rally starting tomorrow. For your reference, the weather here in Morocco is very different from last year. Because it has rained a lot in this area and the conditions are very tough too. We’ll try our best."

Private: Martino Bianchi

Team HRC General Manager

"We are in Morocco for the final round of the World Championship, the OiLibya Rally of Morocco. It’s very important for us, for the preparation ahead of the Dakar. It’s the first time the five riders of the new Team HRC will have ridden together, and it’s a very important test also for the machine too, because Honda’s main aim is always improve bike technology. We’ve got some new things here in Morocco to test, in order to prepare as well as possible for the Dakar rally, in just the right way. Dakar remains our main target of the season. I hope the team will enjoy this race; we did a good preparation for this race here and I wish the whole team a great rally, and good racing."

Private: Wolfgang Fischer

Team HRC Team Manager

"The Morocco rally is the final race of the 2014 Rally-Raid World Championship.
We’ve had a very exciting season so far: winning at the two first races in Abu Dhabi and Qatar; losing some points in Sardinia; finishing very close –second- in Brazil, and now the victory is still open for the World Championship. We will try everything to make up points, and it will be a very exciting race with the big team: it will be the first time with all the five riders will be at the start. Everybody is well prepared and eager to start the race, so.... let’s have a great race!"

Location Information

Morocco has always been a land of rally raid. The story began in 1982 with the arrival of Paris-Agadir, the first rally raid to run in Morocco. The following year, the rally took the name of ‘Atlas Rally’ and became the flagship rally to the Rally Raids calendar. The Atlas… read more.

Winner 2018 Toby Price (KTM)
Winner 2017 Matthias Walkner (KTM)
Winnner 2016 Toby Price (KTM)
Winner 2015 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
Winner 2014 Marc Coma (KTM)
Winner 2013 Paulo Gonçalves (Honda)
Winner 2012 Cyril Despres (KTM)

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