Andalucia Rally is back: ready to start for the second edition, from 12 to 16 May
From 12 to 16 May, just seven months after its creation, the Andalucía Rally is back! Between these two dates only the Dakar has managed to be run. In the still complicated Covid situation, Andalusia has provided the means necessary to allow David Castera’s team to once again offer a magnificent event to international rally-raid competitors. A durable collaboration to ensure the perennity of the Andalucía Rally.
In just a few weeks 204 vehicles signed up for the Andalucía Rally 2021. Precisely 117 cars and 87 bikes – twice the number of cars compared to last October! A massive ‘thumbs up’ from competitors for this second edition that gives the event its legitimacy, with the Andalucía Rally becoming the ‘must do’ start of season event for the discipline. A just reward for the investment and implication of Andalusia and the organisers in an uncertain health and economic context. The FIA was also quick to express their support for the event by awarding it the status of a round of the cross-country rally world cup. It is in part the result of this choice that the second edition is being held in one of the few spots available in the calendar. A first rendez-vous also for the bikes, the Andalucía Rally 2021 being the starting point of the new season, with a number of those intending to enter the Dakar 2022 signing up.
THE GATEWAY TO RALLY-RAID
It is with the goal of taking part in the next Dakar that 66 ‘rookies’ have entered the Challenge Road to Dakar (70% of the bikes, 46% of the quads and 36% of the SSVs). Thanks to its unique profile, described by its creator David Castera as halfway between, “a small rally and a big baja”, but also thanks to its geographic location a few kilometres from Africa but still completely in Europe that the Andalucía Rally positions itself as the gateway to rally-raid for all the competitors wishing to “discover a new universe gently”, to borrow the term used by the master of ceremonies. “The Andalucía Rally is a means of learning the general functioning of a rally: the road-book, the navigation, the start procedures, the liaisons, the time controls… all just as on the Dakar, but with limited risks. It is a rally that is easy to access and where the track doesn’t present any major dangers. Competitors should be able to complete it without too much difficulty and in doing so gain a maximum amount of experience at a reasonable cost. Something that they have clearly appreciated, since a third of the entries are entered in the Challenge Road to Dakar category”.
If the number of rookies is impressive, the Andalucía Rally 2021 will also see a top-level battle between the best competitors on the planet.
LAIA SANZ AND MATTIAS EKSTROM IN X RAID MINIS
Title holder in the T1 car class, Nasser Al-Attiyah (Nasser Racing) will head up the Toyota Overdrive armada, backed up by Yazeed Al-Raiji, Erik Van Loon, Martin Kackmarski and Victor Conceicao.
The Mini clan will also be well represented, led by Carlos Sainz, second last year and who this year has chosen an X-raid four-wheel drive Mini John Cooper Works Rally, as Yazir Seaidan (Race World) and Denis Krotov (MSK Rally Team). There’s another Spanish Mini sensation, but this time feminine…. Because if 17 lady competitors will take part in this edition, all eyes will be on Laia Sanz, the ‘superwoman’ of the Bike category, who has entered behind the wheel of a Mini All 4 Racing. Another attraction of Sven Quandt’s team, the Dakar 2021 winning buggy to be driven by Mattias Ekström, a newcomer to T1, but already Rallycross world champion and two times DTM world champion. Two very high-level debuts that the world of rally-raid will be watching closely. As they will the veteran driver Grégoire de Mévius, driving the Dumbee VW buggy of Stéphane Henrard.
In the Open class six vehicles will be racing in their own specific classification.
64% of the four-wheel vehicles entered on the Andalucía Rally 2021 will be lightweight vehicles!
In the T4 ‘Side by Side Vehicle’ category, the Pole Aaron Domzala, title holder and sixth overall back in October with the Monster Energy Can-Am team, will be defending his crown while teammate, the American Austin Jones will be doing his best to wrest it away. Up against this pair will be the South Racing team who have entered no less than seven Can-Am, including the experienced Dutchman Kees Koolen, winner of the championship in 2020 and the talented Kalifa Al-Attiyah, brother of Nasser.
In T3, for lightweight prototypes, four OT3 Overdrive have been entered by the Red Bull Off Road Junior Team, including the title holder Mitch Guthrie and his compatriot Seth Quintero, as well as Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, eighth overall last autumn with François Cazalet, second in T3 in 2020 as codriver. A fourth crew with well-known names will be making their debut! Guillaume de Mévius will be teaming up with Tom Colsoul, both sons of ex-drivers for Jean-Marc Fortin, team manager of Overdrive. And one De Mévius can hide another! Older brother of Guillaume, Ghislain De Mévius, will also be entered in T3 with his usual codriver in traditional rallies Johan Jalet, aboard a Yamaha Interceptor. And while on the subject of Yamahas, Eric de Seynes, the number one at Yamaha Europe, will race a YXZ1000R alongside Camélia Liparoti.
In the Open class there will be 28 vehicles on the start line, 37% of the lightweight vehicles.
70% ROOKIES IN THE BIKES
In the bikes the percentage of riders making their rally-raid debut shows just how attractive the Andalucía Rally format is. 70% of them will be discovering the discipline! 69% of rally bikes are entered in the Challenge Road to Dakar and 75% in the Enduro Cup. Among the pros, Monster Energy Honda Rally team have entered none other than Joan Barreda. The Argentinian Franco Caimi will also be making his debut with Hero Motorsports Rally alongside Sebastian Bühler and Joaquim Rodrigues. Sherco Factory have once again entered Rui Gonçalves and Lorenzo Santolino, 3rd in 2020. Like him, Joan Pedrero Garcia will be racing ‘at home’, in the colours of the Spanish Rieju brand.
In the quads, the winner of the last Dakar, the Argentinian Manuel Andujar will start as favourite. Another Yamaha rider, Axel Dutrie, the boss of the French Dragon Rally team, should be up at the front of the Enduro Cup entry.
80% NEW SPECIALS
27 different nationalities will be on the start line of the Andalucía Rally 2021 to discover a series of loops leading out from Villamartin. Extensively modified compared to last year, David Castera is clearly proud of the work carried out by his team during the reconnaissance of the route. “We wanted to create a more homogeneous route with less high-speed zones. We went looking for hills to offer more technical specials. Overall the terrain is more varied. We will also take the competitors further afield, all the way to the province of Cordóba. We have found 862 kilometres of new track, for a total of 1086 kilometres of special. By way of a comparison, it is the equivalent of crossing France off-road. Achieving that in Europe with such easy geographic accessibility is an exploit”.
In total 1473 kms, spread over 4 stages from 13 to 16 May, await the competitors after cars qualifying stage and bikes super special on the 12 May to determine the start order. 74% of the route will be timed. The Hacienda El Rosalejo will once again be the base camp of the Andalucía Rally 2021. “But Andalusia still has plenty to offer and the rally could well completely change where it runs next year…” declared the head route maker of the event, already looking to the future.
ANDALUCÍA RALLY 2021 PROGRAMME
Tuesday 11 May : administrative and technical checks
Wednesday 12 May – morning : administrative and technical checks
Wednesday 12 May – afternoon : Prologue
From Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 May : stages 1 to 4
Sunday 16 May - evening : official prizegiving