Sunday, December 17, 2006

Paris-Dakar Rally - Morocco, January 8-11 2007

The 29th Paris-Dakar Rally begins in Lisbon on January 6th and will pass through Morocco, Mauritania and end in Senegal on January 21st. You can check the daily results here: Day One. Day Two.

At a press conference in Casablanca, the organisers unveiled the three stages to be run in Morocco. The first is a 252 kilometre route from Nador to Errachidia. From there, the second stage will take the competitors from Errachidia to Ouarzazat, a distance of just over 400 kilometres. The final Moroccan stage is a 325 kilometre trip between Ouarzazat and Tan Tan.

Experts predict that the second stage between Errachidia and Ouarzazat is expected to be the most demanding, though, as the organisers pointed out, Morocco is considered overall to be the toughest part of the rally. In previous rallies, over 12% of motorbikes dropped out on the Moroccan stages.

This year competitors from 42 countries are expected to take part, with motorbikes making up the largest numbers (250), followed by cars (187) and trucks (88). The number of driving teams sits at 525.

The rally director, Etienne Lavigne, who fronted the Casablanca press conference, stressed that safety and accident prevention are a high priority, with a team dedicated to anticipating potential problems. "They will be there throughout the race, working with local law enforcement agencies, to enforce the rules and inform about hazards," Lavigne said.

He also pointed out that there is a huge tourism windfall for Morocco as the rally is covered by more than 200 television channels worldwide.


This year the rally will donate funds to the victims of the flooding in Merzouga near Errachdia, according to Lavigne, who added that he hoped to see the Paris-Dakar Rally being established as part of the national heritage of every countries it crosses.

According to the Maghrebia website: With the approximately 600 hours of programming planned for this year's rally on more than 75 channels in almost 180 countries, according to the race's website, millions of viewers will no doubt be able to see parts of the cultural heritage of the Sahara.

Daily highlights will be broadcast from the rally, through a 26-minute show produced by ASO and transmitted every evening from the bivouac. Arab and African channels covering the rally include: Lebanon's LBCI, Qatar's Al Jazeera Sport, Dubai's Dubai Sport Channel, the Pan Middle East TV 5 Moyen Orient, Pan Africa Supersport, Morocco's RTM, and Pan Africa TV 5 Afrique.


No comments: