Preview OiLibya Rally 2015: World class competitors at the start
The 2015 edition of the OiLibya Rally starts on monday in Zagora. Lots of teams use this important rally to prepare for the Dakar Rally in January. The importance is obvious when taking a look at the entry lists. In both cars- and bikes-category world class riders are in attendance, as well as an interesting field of trucks. A preview to the OiLibya 2015.
Most of the contenders are back in action for the penultimate round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup. Main favorite and defending OiLibya champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel are set to secure the World Championship. One of the main competitors for the World Cup-lead is Vladimir Vasilyev who is besides Al-Attiyah the only other contender for the World Cup-win.
Lots of eyes will be on the new Peugeot 2008 DKR that will debut in the OiLibya. Since Dakar, a lot of improvements have been done and Carlos Sainz is set to challenge the rally with the new car. Sebastian Loeb will make his rally-raid debut this week, he will make use of the ‘old-spec’ 2008 DKR.
As always, Mini lines up a strong team for the OiLibya. Beside Al-Attiyah and Vasilyev, also Harry Hunt, Erik van Loon, Adam Malysz, Mikko Hirvonen, Jakub Przygonski and Boris Garafulic take the start with the Mini All4Racing at the OiLibya.
Overspeed and Hallspeed join forces as Yazeed Al-Rajhi is one of the big guns at the Toyota-team as well as Giniel de Villiers. The South-African driver, didn’t compete for a time, but will be back in action this week. The runner-up at the last Dakar will be joined again by co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. Also Bernhard ten Brinke will take part in the OiLibya as part of the Overdrive team.
Most of the big teams among the bikes are in attendance during the OiLibya. It is one of the last chances to test the competitiveness of the bikes before travelling to Argentina. After the retirement of Marc Coma, it’s one of the big questions who will be the new man to watch in the Dakar.
KTM had to rebuild their Red Bull factory team after Coma’s departure by signing new riders over the last months. Mathias Walkner was added to the Red Bull-team and was successful during the Atacama Rally. Walkner didn’t win the rally but impressed his team and other competitors. Alongside Walkner there are a few other frontrunners with Jordi Viladoms and Sam Sunderland. Toby Price joined the team this year as well and impressed in his first rallies. Pablo Quintanilla and Laia Sanz are in the KTM factory team. Sanz left HRC to return on a KTM.
HRC Honda is eager to gain confidence of the coming week. Paulo Goncalves and Joan Barreda certainly have the speed to compete with the frontrunners, the big question is whether they are consistent enough to win the race in Morocco. Both of them will be assisted in the coming week by Italian Paolo Ceci who left the Salvatierra-team last minute. Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides are also in the game for HRC. Benavides replaces Michael Metge who had to withdraw from the entry list due to an injury. Also Jeremias Israel is not in attendance at the OiLibya.
2015 is a new start for a few teams with strong line-ups and new machines. Husqvarna is one of those teams as they signed Ruben Faria and presented a new bike. Faria will be joined by Pierre Alexandre Renet who is known from Enduro's as well as MX-championships. The French rider chose to focus towards the rally raids.
Yamaha also invested big time last months by building a new bike and the signing of new riders. Helder Rodrigues was the most important addition to the team. He will join Alessandro Botturi, Xavier de Soultrait and Adrien van Beveren during the OiLibya and possibly the Dakar Rally.
The truck-category sees a few interesting entries. Gerard de Rooy is one of the main competitors who is in to win at both the Dakar and OiLibya. Ales Loprais and Ton van Genugten joined the team last summer and they will make their debut with the Iveco trucks.
Another main competitor in the OiLibya will be the Mammoet team with the Renault-trucks driven by Martin van den Brink and Pascal de Baar.
The OiLibya Rally 2015 starts this Monday in Zagora and will finish on Friday after five demanding stages in Agadir.