Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel finished in second place on the third stage of the five-stage event in Erfoud today, further extending their lead and remaining on course to make it five victories in a row in Morocco. But the Rally of Morocco, part of the FIA’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, still has two tough stages to come, and the team prefers to take things one day at a time.
“We don’t like to think about the end of the event until the last day,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac near the Moroccan town of Erfoud. “For now, we need to make sure that Nasser’s car is fully prepared for the next stage, and focus on our other daily tasks.”
With that said, Al Attiyah/Baumel certainly showed their class on Stage 3, by setting the second-fastest time of the day, just 03:20 behind stage-winner Jakub Przygonski (MINI).
“Nasser and Mathieu opened the road today, and they made a small mistake early on,” explained Hall. “This opened the door for Przygonski, who caught up with the Toyota Hilux crew and clung to them all the way to the finish.”
Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Alex Winocq started the stage on a charge, and were running in second place just before the mid-point. But they suffered a puncture shortly after that, which contributed to damage of the lower rear wishbone. The pair were forced to stop and change the part, before continuing to the end – but it cost them more than twenty minutes. They set the 12th-fastest time on Stage 3, and are now 6th in the overall standings.
“Even so, a clean run on Stages 4 and 5 could see them improve their position in the standings to fourth, so we’re hoping for good results towards the end,” said Hall.
It was a disappointing day for Bernhard ten Brinke and Xavier Panseri, as the pair struggled with the tricky navigation of the Rally of Morocco throughout the day. They went 9th-fastest in the end, losing 23:31 on the stage. This puts them in 11th in the overall standings, with two stages to go.
Stage 4 is up next, and at 342 km of special stage distance, it is the last stage with real hair on its chest. This is also the final looped stage of the event, starting and ending in the town of Erfoud, before the rally returns to Fes via Stage 5 on October 9th. Stage 4 offers a similar mix of terrain to Stages 2 and 3, with rocky river beds, dunes and gravel tracks making up the bulk of the stage.
The Rally of Morocco forms part of the FIA’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which saw Jakub Przygonski (Poland) take the title after his only remaining rival, Vladimir Vasilyev (Russia), failed to complete the event.