· *Russian Vladimir Vasilyev still aiming for FIA World Cup success*· *Al-Attiyah, De Villiers and Ten Brinke to drive Toyota GazooRacing SA cars**FES (MOROCCO) – Sunday, September 30:* Overdrive Racing is making itsfinal preparations for the company’s second busiest week of the seasonafter the Dakar Rally by fielding nine Toyota Hiluxes in the six-day Rallyof Morocco.The penultimate round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Ralliesstarts with a Prologue stage on Thursday afternoon (October 4th), near Fes,and finishes on Tuesday, October 9th after five desert selective sectionsand 1,362 competitive kilometres in a route of 2,051km.Russian G-Energy driver Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsovare still chasing glory in the FIA World Cup. Vasilyev, 49, arrives at thenorth-eastern Moroccan town of Fes trailing series leader Jakub Przygonskiby 71 points in the Drivers’ Championship.
While the Pole is the strong favourite to win the title for the first time,60 points are at stake for the winner in Morocco and a further 30 are onoffer at the last round in Portugal later in the month, so the Baja Spainwinner - who finished third in both Hungary and Poland during the summer -still has a mathematical chance of winning his second title.Overdrive Racing will also oversee the running of a trio of Toyota GazooRacing South Africa Toyotas featuring the team’s latest innovations andrevisions. The entire team tested in the Moroccan deserts in the daysbuilding up to the event and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, SouthAfrica’s Giniel de Villiers and Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke will be hopingfor a successful test and an impressive showing in the Moroccan event thatacts as a vital pre-Dakar Rally shakedown for the entire team.Al-Attiyah was unable to defend his FIA World Cup title on this occasion. Acouple of mechanical failures cost him dearly in Qatar and Kazakhstan afterhe had won Baja Russia and the decision to miss the Abu Dhabi DesertChallenge meant that his title bid was over long before he and Frenchnavigator Matthieu Baumel finished second at the non-championship Silk WayRally in Russia.An injury to co-driver Robert Howie sidelined De Villiers prematurely inQatar, but the consistent South African has been working on the developmentof the Toyota Hilux behind the scenes and the goal of continuing a stringof Dakar podium finishes will be boosted no end by a good result for himand new French navigator Alexandre Winocq in Morocco.
Ten Brinke teams up with Frenchman Xavier Panseri in the third of theToyota Gazoo cars, the Dutchman keen to put in some competitive timesbefore the Dakar in January.Poland’s Aron Domzala holds eighth in the FIA World Cup standings after amixed season that included fourth places in Spain and Qatar. He and fellowcountryman Maciej Marton crew the fifth car.The experienced Dutchman Erik van Loon returns to the hot seat for thefirst time since finishing sixth in Spain with Wouter Rosegaar. But VanLoon also has a new co-driver for his Moroccan challenge. HarmenScholtabers will co-drive the sixth of the Toyotas.Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Seaidan returns to competitive FIA World Cup actionfor the first time since missing Rally Kazakhstan. The Saudi was therevelation of the earlier rounds of the championship and finished third atthe Dubai Baja and in Qatar back in April. He will be partnered by Russiannavigator Alexei Kuzmich.
Frenchman Ronan Chabot returns to the driving seat in the eighth of theToyotas with co-driver Gilles Pillot and the all-Chinese crew of YuxiangLiang and Kou Hongtao round off the truly international Toyota team line-upin Morocco.Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “Morocco is one of thetoughest events on the calendar and equally an important test for the teambefore the Dakar. Vladimir is still chasing success in the FIA World Cup,but we have a real emphasis on fine tuning and testing and leaving nothingto chance before all the focus turns to the final preparations for Dakar.”A Prologue of 10km loops around the desert near Fes to determine theopening stage running order for the top 10 crews on October 4th.The first of the desert selectives starts out of Fes on October 5th and issplit into two timed sections of 103km and 91km before arriving in Erfoud –an oasis town situated in the Drâa-Tafilalet region of eastern Morocco.The second, third and fourth selective sections of 329km, 289km and 342kmloop around Erfoud on October 6th, 7th and 8th and action draws to aconclusion with a fifth section of 198km en route to the finish in Fes onOctober 9th.*FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 9:*1. Jakub Przygonski (POL) 288pts2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 217pts3. Martin Prokop (CZE) 196pts4. José Pena Campo (ESP) 64pts5. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 60pts6. Yasir Seaidan (SAU) 58pts7. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU) 52pts8. Aron Domzala (POL) 36pts, etc