On 8 September, Morocco was hit by the strongest recorded earthquake in its history when a magnitude 6.9 quake struck the Marrakesh-Safi region, killing nearly three thousand people. Although the Rallye du Maroc will not begin until over a month later on 13 October, the rally hopes to chip in some support.
The rally’s route was not affected by the earthquake as it runs south of Marrakesh-Safi in the Souss-Massa and Drâa-Tafilalet regions. Even if the route did go through the impacted areas, it is probable that the race could still proceed as scheduled due to the month-long period between the earthquake and the rally. Otherwise, its slot as the final round of the World Rally-Raid Championship also provides some leeway for postponement if necessary.
Previous iterations of the Rallye du Maroc have gone through Marrakesh.
“We are in for a very special edition of the Rallye du Maroc,” said race director David Castera. “In the aftermath of the disaster that hit it a few days ago, we will support the reconstruction of our host country through a series of initiatives launched in close consultation with the authorities. The original sports programme of the race remains in place.
“The Rallye du Maroc is cast in the same mould as its bigger counterpart, the Dakar (Rally), whose features and spirit it has always shared. Now as ever, Morocco is a vast arena for rally raids, with dirt tracks, sand, stones and dunes that open up possibilities in every register. It is also a sprawling desert riddled with navigational challenges. Not a single special will dip below 300 km. It is no exaggeration to say that the Rallye du Maroc is a miniature Dakar. The upcoming edition will stay true to this tradition, with an A to Z of what our sport has to offer. This is crystal clear to both the pros and the amateurs, which is why we already have 140 motorbikes on the start list. We also have a few surprises in store, such as Nani Roma’s first official outing with Ford in the car race and the reveal of a new Honda HRC in the motorbike competition.”
The Morocco Desert Challenge, an unrelated rally raid that takes place in the spring, used its race presentation in the Netherlands last Thursday to collect donations of winter clothing from attendees for earthquake relief. Part-time W2RC team Gaia Motorsports and training school ATV Organisations Maroc are among those who have launched drives and fundraisers.
The earthquake is the second deadliest of 2023 after nearly sixty thousand died in Turkey and Syria due to a magnitude 7.8 in February. Organisers of the Baja Troia Türkiye, a round of the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, and Eastern European amateur cross-country rally overseer RBI Sport both provided off-road vehicles and emergency workers.
The 2023 Rallye du Maroc runs from 13 to 18 October.