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Saving the best for last: Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk win Rally Morocco and are both runners-up in the world championship

18. October 2023

Further contributions

  • After the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk celebrate their second win of the season in the FIA World Cross-Country Rally Championship (W2RC) at the Morocco Rally
  • Consistency is king: re-formed duo always on the podium together in the fiercely contested FIA World Championship – great success at a first-class season finale
  • In the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world championships: Saudi Arabian-Brandenburg duo narrowly beaten to runner-up spot

Merzouga, Morocco (October 18, 2023) – Superlatives, please! Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk have won the FIA Cross Country Rally World Championship season finale, which featured a top-class field of competitors. At the Morocco Rally, the re-formed Saudi-Arabian-Brandenburg duo put in a top performance in terms of driving, co-driving and tactics against the crème de la crème of the cross-country rally scene. Among others against the record Dakar Rally winner Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger (FRA/FRA, Audi), the other Audi armada with Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (ESP/ESP) and Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergqvist (SWE/SWE), the new world champions Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA, Toyota) or the World Rally Championship record holder Sébastien Loeb and his co-driver Fabian Lurquin (FRA/BEL, Prodrive).

Thanks to an almost maximum points haul, they secured the runner-up title in both the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships, narrowly missing out on winning the title – which was seen as a kind of “mission impossible” before the season finale in Morocco. Since reuniting as a duo after the last Dakar Rally, Al-Rajhi and Gottschalk have consistently finished on the podium of the W2RC and won two of the four WRC rounds they contested together – in addition to the Morocco Rally today and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge at the end of February. There are also other successes – such as the triumph at the Italian Baja.

Competition factor, terrain factor

The victory at the Morocco Rally stands out from this list in several respects: In addition to facing the who’s who of the cross-country rally scene, the rally itself turned out to be just as tough. In addition to gravel and scree sections, fast sand tracks and tricky dune passages were on the agenda – ideal preparation for the upcoming Dakar Rally in January, which will once again be held in Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s home country of Saudi Arabia. A clever strategy once again proved to be a winning strategy: Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk took a well-judged risk on the penultimate day of the rally to take a narrow lead in the overall standings, despite suffering two punctures on this extremely demanding stage – but without overpacing themselves. They defended their lead on the particularly difficult final section, which was also peppered with 40 kilometers of dune crossings.


“We are happy and proud to have won the Morocco Rally. It was a first-class event, a really tough rally and therefore a top preparation for the Dakar Rally in January. Winning here doesn’t immediately make us the favorites – but it gives us a good feeling. I’m pleased to have secured second place in the W2RC.”


“What a rally! Really difficult, really hard – and the best of all results. We are proud and happy. It wasn’t easy to stay focused and patient at all times. But I think we managed it well. The terrain was demanding and extremely varied every day – a great and difficult W2RC rally. To have won it and come second in the championship – it couldn’t have been better.”


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