Saturday, March 2, 2024

2023 Rallye du Maroc: Giroud bookends Quad season with wins, Kancius scores crown

Perhaps the most memorable moment of Laisvydas Kancius‘ 2023 Rallye du Maroc was him doing doughnuts to try to extinguish a fire on the Rally2 bike of fellow Lithuanian Modestas Siliunas, to no success as the blaze continued to consume it. What he did not fail at, on the other hand, was winning a World Rally-Raid Championship in the Quad category.

Despite winning the Prologue, Kancius was not much of a factor in the rally itself as he failed to score a podium in any of the five stages. Stage #3 delivered the killing blow to his overall hopes when he received eight and a half fours in time penalties for missing a waypoint and failing to finish due to electrical problems. He was able to repair his Yamaha Raptor 700 in time to continue the rally, eventually finishing seventh overall of nine finishers, over twelve hours behind winner Alexandre Giroud.

While the finish was his worst of the season, Kancius virtually had the championship locked up entering Morocco. He led Rodolfo Guillioli by sixteen points going into the finale; in order for Guillioli to pull off the comeback, he would have needed to win while Kancius either retired or finished seventh for W2RC riders at best, the latter impossible as there were only six such entrants. Kancius’ seventh overall was good for fourth among championship contenders, while Juraj Varga beat Guillioli for the W2RC win.

Kancius ended the season with 82 points, nine ahead of Guillioli, and a win at the Sonora Rally.

“A lot of strength, effort, nerves, time, and everything possible were put into this result,” said Kancius. He is one of two Lithuanian W2RC champions alongside Rokas Baciuška in T4. “Although the Morocco Rally was a bigger challenge than I expected and at one point it seemed that everything was slipping out of your hands, but when you are so close to the goal, you can’t give up.”

Giroud, the reigning W2RC Quad champion, elected not to defend his title but made select starts anyway. He won the season-opening Dakar Rally in January for the second consecutive year before settling down to treat a acromioclavicular joint injury he exacerbated at Dakar.

Manuel Andújar, who won the Desafío Ruta 40, was poised to notch his second straight win after claiming the first three stages. Howveer, his quad started to lose oil during the penultimate leg and he opted to retire to preserve the engine for later events. With Andújar out of the picture, Giroud won the last two days.

Abdulaziz Ahli was the only Quad winner in 2023 to not race at Morocco, exclusively entering and winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the third year in a row.

After scoring a podium on début in Abu Dhabi, CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team successfully brought home both of their quads at Morocco with Gaëtan Martinez and Mindaugas Skudutis. Skudutis suffered an electrical failiure while Martinez lost power steering on the first day, causing the former to drop to the bottom of the ranking due to a stage retirement penalty, before they completed the rest of the rally without much trouble.

“It’s a good feeling to start in the same competition together with the most famous names of this sport,” said Skuditis. “It’s a very good experience and feeling to be here.”

Quad overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 186 Alexandre Giroud* Drag’on Rally Team 21:07:24 Leader
2 182 Juraj Varga Varga Motorsport 21:27:20 + 19:56
3 181 Rodolfo Guillioli Pepitas Racing Team 22:25:16 + 1:17:52
4 187 Jérôme Connart* Team Giroud 23:10:47 + 2:03:23
5 189 Gaëtan Martinez CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team 24:23:33 + 3:16:09
6 184 Semuel Desbuisson* Drag’on Rally Team 28:34:27 + 7:27:03
7 180 Laisvydas Kancius Story Racing SRO 33:32:43 + 12:25:19
8 185 Toni Vingut* Visit Sant Antoni – Ibiza 36:23:54 + 15:16:30
9 188 Mindaugas Skudutis CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team 40:57:55 + 19:50:31
DNF 183 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Quad stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Laisvydas Kancius 1:05:35.8 (13:07.8)
Stage #1 Manuel Andújar 4:02:13
Stage #2 Manuel Andújar 3:49:21
Stage #3 Manuel Andújar 4:01:01
Stage #4 Alexandre Giroud* 5:02:16
Stage #5 Alexandre Giroud* 2:26:56

Overall winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 201 Yazeed Al-Rajhi Toyota Gazoo Racing 14:49:09
T2 251 Ronald Basso* Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body 22:14:17
T3 315 Marek Goczał EnergyLandia Rally Team 16:22:12
T4 403 João Ferreira South Racing Can-Am 18:26:24
T5 506 Michiel Becx* Team de Rooy 21:32:34
RallyGP 8 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 15:56:43
Rally2 32 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 17:06:37
Rally3 164 Cheikh Yves Jacquemain Africa Rallye Team 23:42:39
Quad 186 Alexandre Giroud* Drag’on Rally Team 21:07:24
Open Auto 601 Jérôme Cambier* MD Rallye Sport 21:21:46
Open SSV 653 Tomas Mickus* BRO Racing 21:42:23
Road to Dakar Bike 71 Toby Hederics* BAS World KTM Racing Team 19:11:16
Road to Dakar SSV 420 William Grarre* Team Horizon Off-Road 21:50:39

W2RC Quad standings

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 Laisvydas Kancius 82 Leader
2 Rodolfo Guillioli 73 – 9
3 Juraj Varga 71 – 11
4 Pablo Copetti 38 – 44
T-5 Abdulaziz Ahli 25 – 57
T-5 Manuel Andújar 25 – 57
7 Carlos Alejandro Verza 20 – 62
T-8 Adomas Gančierius 16 – 66
T-8 Gaëtan Martinez 16 – 66
T-10 Antonas Kanopkinas 11 – 71
T-10 Toni Vingut 11 – 71
12 Mindaugas Skudutis 10 – 72