Rallye OiLibya du Maroc provided race action right up to the final Leg 5 of this six day racing spectacle. With the competitors crossing the finish line at Erfoud, it was the MINI Family members who were celebrating loudest from the fact all seven MINI cars completed what was a tough but enthralling race.
Rallye due Maroc 2017 was not just another top flight race in the 2017 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup – it was also the last opportunity for MINI Motorsport partner X-Raid to complete large scale testing of MINI cars on terrain similar to that which will encountered during the 2018 Dakar Rally.
Highest placed MINI crew at Rallye du Maroc was the Spanish pairing of Joan “Nani” Roma and Alex Haro. Despite it being their first MINI outing of 2017, the dynamic duo drove a fast paced but tactical race to finish in third place, much to the delight of the experienced Roma.
Roma: “The changing conditions meant it was not easy at the beginning, but was really nice. The team is amazing and think we have a good atmosphere and a nice group – I think everyone is happy, which is good. Going back to the race, every day we take risks and try to do our best and today we were on the stage, finishing third overall. This was good for the team and for me and Alex, but also to have a good result before the Dakar.”
Jakub Przygonski (POL) with co-driver Tom Colsoul (BEL) also drove a superb race in a MINI John Cooper Works Rally to claim fourth overall and underline the form the pair have shown in this year’s FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. With today’s result Przygonski retains his position of second place with one round of the FIA World Cup to go.
Fifth in the overall race classification was the MINI of Vladimir Valisyev (RUS) and co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS). This experienced crew appeared determined to push hard from the start and this is exactly what they did with a top five finish as reward.
Race end positions seven-to-nine were also filled with members of the MINI Family. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and co-driver Andreas Schulz (GER) took seventh place even though they suffered minor but annoying setbacks throughout the race stages. Indeed, Mikko Hirvonen’s round-up of the race was in the same tone as the other MINI crews comments.
Hirvonen: “In some ways we had a good race, but there was not one stage that we had a clear run. In the first stage we had three punctures. Second stage, we did really well but then on the third stage we got stuck in the mud for 16 minutes and it got cancelled anyway. One stage, we also broke the drive shaft and today we were in the dust again. A bit frustrating that we didn’t have a good run because I think we could have had a good stage, but we learned a lot and had good speed so that was fine.”
Following up in eighth was the MINI John Cooper Works Rally of Americans Bryce Menzies and Peter Mortensen. Argentine duo Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Graue secured a solid ninth place finish. Narrowly missing top ten inclusion with their 11th place result was the final MINI crew to complete Rallye OiLibya du Maroc, that being the crew of Boris Garafulic (CHI) and Filipe Palmeiro (POR).