Casey Currie Wins the 2019 Rally Du Maroc
After 22 hours of flying from the states we found ourselves in Casablanca, Morocco. We exited the airport to a welcoming site: a local with “Casey Currie” on a sign, who ended up being our driver for the upcoming nine-hour trip to Erfoud where we would be testing before the race. Our new friend guided us to his car where we were stoked to see a nice Mercedes van. We loaded up and headed out for Erfoud where the race was hosted.
After a couple hours on the road our stomachs started to rumble and we made the decision to stop at a McDonalds in Fes because it would be our last taste of American food for the next 10 days. Once we got to Fes we found out that our driver believed that was our final destination, which it wasn’t. We still had another six hours to go to Erfoud. This update didn’t unsettle our driver and we were off to Erfoud. We arrived at our palace of a hotel around seven in the evening—12 hours of driving later. The beds were more than amazing after such a long trip.
The next day we had an early wake-up call for testing and a team photo/video shoot. We headed out to a little oasis for some sunrise “golden-hour” photos. The crew worked on some fine tuning of the shocks in-between photos. Things were starting to come together before heading back up to Fes the next day for scrutineering.
Back in Fes our day consisted of final checks of the car before heading to scrutineering. We went over to the bivouac which was located on the grounds of an old soccer stadium. It looked like they recently started on remodeling the old cement building. After getting the car stickered up and mounting some fresh Nitto Trail Grappler SxS tires to the car we were taken back to our hotel for scrutineering.
The car passed scrutineering with flying colors and we awaited the driver’s briefing. At the briefing we found out the car categories would not be taking part in a prologue. This means we wouldn’t be qualifying and the starting order will be based by category and by the given race number we received. This put Casey at the back of the pack and in a lot of dust in the days to come.
The next day turned out a little odd for us, instead of doing prologue like we had originally planned, we a day off. After a late breakfast we headed down to the bivouac to go over a couple last ideas with the car. Other than that, we mostly hung-out and twiddled our thumbs, a very rare occasion at a rally.
The following day was the start of the rally. Stage one was originally planned to be a two special stage. But the first special was cancelled due to some construction issues on the race course. So instead the competitors had a 245 km liaison before the start of the second special. The second special is 204 km and consisted of a technical, rocky, mountainous terrain course as well as a sandy dune section towards the finish of the stage. It was an easier special on the navigators with a lot of dirt road and not a lot of off-piste (no distinguishing tracks).
Casey ended up finishing second on that stage—only a minute and 43-seconds behind the leader.
"The cars running well and Sean did a great job co-driving. We never got lost, no navigation errors at all. We got a lot of prototype stuff on the car, preparing for Dakar!" Casey said about the day.
The crew went to work on the vehicles as we checked out the bivouac that would be home for the next few days. Normally on Dakar, the bivouac moves from day to day. In Morocco the bivouac was going to remain in Erfoud for four nights making it easier on the crews so they wouldn’t have to pack-up and move each day.
The bivouac was laid out with rugs as far as the eye could see. There was a main, grand opening with a stage for performances and daily briefings. Once you moved past that there was an eating hall where breakfast, lunch and dinner were served. Past that was the sleeping area, where there were two levels of accommodations; standard and luxury. The standard tents came with four beds and power and a set of community bathrooms and showers which were fairly nice. The luxury tent was a two-bed tent with private bathroom and shower. During the day the tents were unbearably hot and at nights got down to temperatures we considered chilly. We got plenty of sleep before the next day of racing.
Stage two started off with a 49 km liaison on hard-packed dirt roads. The special was 282 km long with multiple sections of tall dunes and rocky roads. Casey would go off the line second and by the first set of dunes at km 46 he was into the lead and not looking back. He would pull a big lead and maintain it throughout the stage and won it by three minutes over second place. Casey now had an overall lead of 24 minutes going into stage 3.
"Today we had some small navigation issues but overall we are learning. It's been a great experience and the sand dunes were big today. Rallye Du Maroc is a big test for us, we are here to better ourselves for Dakar. Three more days—we are having a blast!" Casey reported after the second stage.
Stage three would end up being a rough one for Casey and his navigator Sean. The stage was split into two specials with a neutralization in the middle for refueling and maintenance on the car. The first special started straight from the bivouac with a quick loop into a set of small dunes before heading out into the desert. Casey would finish the 148 km loop with no issues putting 16 minutes on the competition. The second special came with some navigation troubles. The SSV class had a separate loop then the other classes and would have Casey breaking the trail. A small mis-judgment on split in a wash would end up costing them a ton of time. They wound up losing 45 minutes on the day and sat in second overall with two stages left.
"Today started out excellent and we led the stage to the halfway mark. After the neutralization time we started back up and had a rough afternoon. Navigation issues with tough road books got the best of us. We are learning as a team and Sean is really doing a good job. All this training is what we need for Dakar." Casey said after finishing racing for the day.
At Stage four things the team was firing on all cylinders. The day would kick-off with an early morning wake up for all of the competitors and a 68 km liaison down to the start. The special was a long 311 km of fast-paced roads with a section running through an abandoned village. Casey and Sean would be back to their stellar navigating and would take the stage win by 29 minutes. With the rest of the class experiencing issues, Casey had an hour lead going into the final stage.
"Day four is in the books and it went really well! We went back did some homework last night, did some fine tuning, and did not have any mistakes today. Super stoked on that and it looks like we got the stage win today and now lead the rally in our category. One more day back up to Fes to lock this in!" Casey said.
The final stage was a long day all the way back up to Fes from Erfoud. It started with a long 214 km liaison up to the start of a 168 km special. The special would consist of mainly dirt roads and would be a little easy on the navigation. With an hour gap over second the plan was simple, don’t get any flats and don’t make any mistakes on navigation. Casey and Sean handled the section and wound-up third on the stage, losing 16 minutes but winning the overall race by a comfortable 40 minutes.
"We won the Rallye Du Maroc overall in the Open SSV category which is the same category we’ll be racing in the 2020 Dakar. Lots came out of this rally. Really excited on all the big changes we made to the car. Now to go home to fine tune the car and to train as much as we can before Dakar. Sean killed it in the right seat. Monster Energy Can-Am gave us a perfect Maverick and Can-Am Offroad has helped so much with fine tuning," Casey said.
After five grueling days of racing the rally was over, but we had a solid win and great practice for Dakar—a win all around.
Story and photos courtesy of Casey Currie Racing.
See how Casey did at the 2019 Dakar Rally from earlier this year: click here.