1979 World Rally Champion set for Moroccan adventure
- 21st September 2010, 9:02am
Waldegard, the 1979 world rally champion, is no stranger to competing in Africa. As well as driving in Morocco when the country was part of the World Rally Championship from 1973-76, the 66-year-old was a formidable competitor on the Safari Rally, winning the event on no fewer than four occasions.
He will replace Bruno Saby in the Peugeot 504 belonging to Jean-Pierre Nicolas. Frenchman Saby has been forced to stand down for personal reasons.
"It was a last-minute call but I was very quick to accept the invitation because I know it will be a very good rally based on the experience I have from competing in Morocco and from knowing the good job the guys responsible for organising the event do," said Waldegard.
"My experience of competing in Morocco was in a Citroen and a Fiat Spider so I know how extremely tough the roads can be, especially in the areas by the dried-out rivers. For this reason you have to be very alert."
Although Morocco won't be unfamiliar territory for Waldegard, he has yet to get behind the wheel of the Peugeot 504 he will use on the event alongside experienced French co-driver Denis Giraudet.
"I have never driven the Peugeot before but I am told it's a very powerful car so I hope I can drive it at least on the day before the rally starts," said Waldegard. "It's not ideal but I have to accept the situation. The rally lasts for nine days so I have time to adapt to the car. It won't be a problem and you have to remember the Peugeot has a good record on events in Africa so it's a car that can be competitive but also reliable."
Waldegard said endurance events such as Rallye International du Maroc require a strategic approach, rather than attempting to drive flat-out from the start.
"You have to take a prestigious endurance rally like this day by day, never think about winning but avoiding problems because the moment you have a problem you know you are not going to win. That will be my target," he added.
Rallye International du Maroc starts in Marakech on Sunday October 10 and covers a competitive distance of 1444 kilometres.
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