ANDALUCÍA RALLY 2020
KEEPING THE FLAME ALIVE!
 
 
As the competitors climbed out of their vehicles, on arriving at the ridiculously picturesque Harcienda El Rosalejo, in the heart of the Andalusian hills, they experienced a heady cocktail of emotions: relief, joy, gratitude, surprise...

Relief at having succeeded in jumping through all the necessary covid hoops needed to get them from their homes to the start of the rally. Joy at finally being reunited with their rally-raid family and at last being able to take part in their favourite sport. Gratitude that an organiser had managed to pull off the unlikely feat of organising such a complex international race in the current context. Surprise that despite putting together the Andalucía Rally 2020 in record time, the organisers hadn’t neglected essential details such as the choice of the rally’s base. Depending on each participants circumstances a different emotion took precedence.

Happily, for most of the competitors the overwhelming emotion was one of joy and 2020 Dakar winner Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) was no exception. “It feels really good to be back and hanging out with the team and also to be with the rest of the rally racers. I’ve actually done a couple of races this year since the Dakar but it is really nice to be back riding a road book that will be Dakar spec against Dakar competitors to see where we line up. I don’t think anyone knows how it is going to be here but we’re just excited to be back together.”

A sentiment shared by one of his principle rivals, the Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). “We all really happy to be back on a rally racing again after such a difficult year. This is of course unknown territory for us. From what I understand it will be pretty fast with a few more technical bits and some tricky navigation. My goal is to get a good feeling on the bike, sharpen up my navigation and get ready for Dakar.”

Over at the Yamaha camp Adrien van Beveren (Monster Yamaha Rally Official Team) was also delighted to be racing again. “My passion is rally-raid, so to be here in that atmosphere, is just the best. I can already feel the adrenaline in me – I become a different man when I am on a rally. I am happy here in my element.”

In the cars ‘Mr Dakar’ Stephane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini JCW), spoke for many with an expression of both joy and gratitude: “Its good to be back on a rally after so many months of inactivity. Congratulations to David Castera and his team for putting this together. I’m guessing it can’t have been easy, but it is so important for the discipline. We are really happy to have this chance to come together as a team and test our cars – particularly important for me as it gives me a chance to spend more race time with my new co-driver Edouard Boulanger in the run up to Dakar.”

For some however, such as Isidre Esteve (Repsol Rally Team), the overriding emotion was relief. The ex-bike rider started putting together his Dakar project back in March, but with the global lockdown it all came to a grinding halt. “To be honest if we didn’t have the possibility of racing here and preparing our new car I am not sure that our sponsors would have given us the green light to go to Dakar in 2021.”
 
 
 
 

And he wasn’t the only one relying on the Andalucía Rally 2020 as a stepping-stone to the world’s biggest off-road race next January. All Dakar ‘rookie’ motorcycle entrants must compete an ASO approved event before being accepted and three times world enduro champion David Knight (HT Rally Team) is no exception. Commented the Manxman; “after a number of unsuccessful attempts to get to the Dakar start line, everything finally came together early this year. The only piece of the jigsaw missing was a qualifying event. And as they were cancelled one after the other I started to get a bit nervous. Without the Andalucía Rally 2020 I’d have to forfeit my entry.”

Before being able to meet up again, all the competitors and their teams, as well as the staff of organisers ODC Events, were required to check in at the entrance of the bivouac with a negative Covid test so ensure health safety on the race, which exceptionally will be held behind closed doors. Tomorrow the event will shift into race mode with a 9 kilometre super special for bikes at the end of the day to decide start order. An exercise that will be particularly crucial given the expected dust over the next few days….

David Castera, the architect of this challenge, took time out to explain the philosophy behind the event: “We created the Andalucía Rally to keep the flame alive… Three months away from the Dakar it is a strong message. 95% of the competitors here will be on the Dakar and it was important for them but also for their sponsors, to prove to them that the adventure remains possible and that it continues. Even if today we have a dream entry with almost all the teams present, the competitors are here, above all to find their mark, carry out tests, discover the new road book in the cars and try the airbag in the bikes. We would all have liked to be in Morocco and the desert like usual but it isn’t possible and this rally-raid family rendez-vous must be approached in a spirit of conviviality more than focusing on the results. And if our pleasure is to be together again then what better place than the Hacienda El Rosalejo, rich as it is in Andalusian history.”

Today (and tomorrow morning for the cars) has been dedicated to scrutineering. In total 68 bikes / quads and 58 cars / SSVs representing just under 30 nationalities are expected through administrative checks and technical scrutineering.

FOCUS ON…

El Rosalejo, pearl of Andalusia

Nestling in the Andalusian hills between Seville and Gibraltar and specialising in organising upmarket events, the Hacienda El Rosajelo instantly plunges visitors into 18th century charm. Totally restored to its former glory, the domain is a monument to the region’s agricultural ancestry. Gastonomy, relaxation, horse-riding and nature – the perfect way to connect to Andalusia’s vibrant heart. www.elrosalejo.com

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PRESS CONTACT :
Matthieu Perez
media@rallyedumaroc.com
 
 
Photo credit : ODC / Charly Lopez
 
 
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