The Rally Morocco was on my plan from the very beginning and to be used as the ultimate test for the Dakar 2022 - an absolute MUST!
Apart from that , it also was a request from the A.S.O. (Dakar organizer) for Rookies and to check if they are ready to compete in the Dakar 2022!
Almost all the big names on motorcycles, cars, SSVs etc ... and the factory drivers were at the start to use the last test opportunity for the Dakar 2022! A small Dakar in advance as training with slightly shorter stages & only 5 days to drive! ... The stages were of an average of 500km daily!
The young team in Morocco at the finish - Mason Klein (20 years) Mike Wiedemann (23) & Bradley Cox (22)
Mason - already an off-road star in the USA - is associated with the works teams since quite some time. Same applies to Bradley, the son of rally legend Alfi Cox. Both have won several championships in the USA and Africa and the next step seems to be a matter of form only!
They immediate have proved their skills here in Marokko, where it was seen that a victory would only be possible by defeating these two - but in the end no one made it. Mason won easily, Bradley was third due to a small roadbook mistake he made. I am obviously in best of hands here and can only learn!
The entire BAS DAKAR TEAM was happy with me.
(.. left Alfi Cox - father of Bradley & right the father of Mason Klein ... in the back Bradley & Maison)
Long story short! It's done!
As for the Dakar 2022, I was well looked after by the "BAS DAKAR TEAM" in Morocco.
Unfortunately, a fracture of the metacarpal bone stopped my training shortly before I arrived in Morocco. After recovery I immediately went to Spain to do a road book training with Gordi Viladoms, the instructor of the KTM factory riders and many other rally drivers.
At the same time, I sat there properly on my KTM Rallye450R for the first time and had a lot of struggles with the heavy bike - a heavy take-off into a ravine remained unharmed ... thanks God :(
Since I was physically thrown back in the training plan due to the injury, the plan was to use the Rally Morocco primarily as further road book training and to get to know the rally bike. Neither was as difficult for me as expected and I quickly got into a good rhythm.
Day 1 - Stage 1A:
It's all about the starting place on the first real day of driving (day 2). To avoid falls and stupid mistakes
I drove very moderately which reflected in starting position 21 out of 90 starters!
Day 2 - Stage 1B:
Started a bit far back & then came up to 5th place very surprising for me! Of course I was overjoyed! But this show of strength should leave its mark! Already at night hardly any sleep and severe pain in the wrists - unfortunately now the training deficit due to the injury was noticeable! How should this go on for the next few days?
Day 3 - Stage 2:
Very fast speed from everyone right from the start. But then I just listened to my head, to be on the safe side and slowed down a bit. So of course I fell back a few places in the interim times. Towards the end of the stage, however, I felt a little safer again and really spurred the Rally 450R - it was really fun and joy rose in my heart!
This way I managed to get back to 11th place at the finish - which meant 7th overall after 3 days of the rally!
I would never have dreamed of it like this!
Day 4 - Stage 3:
The pain in my wrists didn't get any better, so even at night my thoughts circled for a long time about how things would go on? Of course, that sleep was missing during the next day and I went into the race with a little concern. Nevertheless, I was at the top all day - dropped a bit but also caught up again. No big mistakes and also very well navigated. Everything had actually worked out perfectly as agreed the day before and immediate was visible in the result! 7th place in the daily ranking & back to 6th place in the overall ranking!
Day 5 - Stage 4:
If you want to cut a day out of your life every now and then - that was definitely day 5!
Everything started as usual - great speed, felt very comfortable on the bike and with 7th place again very well placed in the daily standings! Then it happened! The paper in the road book tore up and I could no longer navigate. The fastest & best decision was to attach myself to another fast driver and to glue the paper at the next checkpoint (15 minutes rest for motorcyclists) in order to be able to continue! The idea was good, the implementation pathetic! Unfortunately, my "draft horse" got lost twice and also missed the vital waypoints!
I still crossed the finish line in 12th place, but we BOTH got a 30 minute penalty, which of course totally ruined our overall result at the Morocco Rally! Daily ranking 35th place / overall placement 12th place!
Starting place for day 6 therefore position 33!
My mentor: Now you can only make one mistake! LEARN NOTHING FROM IT!
Day 6 - Stage 5:
Now it was about damage control! Of course, I would never have dreamed of appearing in the TOP 10 at my first real big rallye - especially in Morocco, where everyone is on the line! It was surely a dream at most! BUT now the dream was so close and I wanted to fulfill it!
Starting from position 33 on the grid, I was able to overtake one after the other in front of me and slowly work my way towards the top. At the end of the day I had passed 24 riders and moved up to 9th place in the day's standings! Unfortunately, it didn't really pay back, but at least I was able to manage and save 11th overall.
Much more than I ever dreamed of! THANKS TO EVERYONE who made this possible for me!
The feeling, spirit and surrounding in the camp of this day wasn't only very special for me. Everyone else was happy to have survived the rally ! Finally, one more thing!
The paddock, the organizers, the participants - RALLY RAID - are something special and a big family.
Everyone helps everyone and everyone is happy to share their experiences or just a few "selfies" with the ROOKIES ... even the " top shots " like here:
Nasser Al-Attiya, Mike Wiedemann, Sam Sunderland & Toby Price