Recent Dakar Rally winners make appearance in 2018 Merzouga Rally

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They are back! Matthias Walkner, Kevin Benavides, Sam Sunderland and Toby Price will be coming together on the tracks of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, three months after the Dakar rally. The riders will do battle on the hot Moroccan dunes and will be rubbing shoulders with many amateurs getting a taste of the rally-raid discipline’s delights for the first time.

With the aim of withstanding the pitfalls of the dunes, the heat and accumulated tiredness, over a five-day period in Eastern Morocco, the Afriquia Merzouga Rally will offer a whole host of enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy their first experience of the rally-raid discipline. For this 8th edition, more than half of the participants will be discovering the event! Their initiation will take place in the best conditions: the organisers of the Dakar – who have renewed their partnership with Afriquia for the 3rd consecutive year – will be providing these emerging riders and drivers with the fruits of their experience in terms of organisation, logistics and support at every moment.

Indeed, at the end of each stage, the participants will be able to attend lessons to improve their skills, especially for preparing the road-book and dealing with navigation. These workshops will be given by Edo Mossi, the sporting director, and Nani Roma. The Spaniard, who has twice won the Dakar, will be giving lessons at the end of each stage whilst also taking part in the race in the Side-by-Side category. 

The best riders will be present

The Mini driver will not be the only star in attendance over the five days of the event. The last three winners of the Dakar in the bike category, Matthias Walkner (this year), Sam Sunderland (in 2017) and Toby Price (in 2016) will also be representing the colours of the Red Bull KTM Factory team. The battle for victory will be hotly contested, especially since there will be plenty of tough competition: Husqvarna (lead by Chilean Pablo Quintanilla), Team Honda HRC (including Paolo Gonçalves, Joan Barreda Bort, José Ignacio Cornejo and Kevin Benavides) as well as Yamaha (with Franco Caimi, 3rd on the last Afriquia Merzouga rally), Hero and Sherco will all be travelling to North Africa to take part.

The show that these elite riders will put on will also be a source of endless inspiration to the amateur riders. The very essence of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally is unchanged: to act as a springboard for success in the rally-raid discipline and take a step forward with a view to taking part in the Dakar one day. Indeed, the best rookie – a rider taking part for the first time in this Moroccan rally – will win a ticket for the biggest rally-raid in the world. It is not too late to try your luck and taste the delights and thrills of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally: registrations for this edition are still open until Sunday 25th March.