Rallye du Maroc needs no introduction – it’s a brutal rally race designed to single out riders who go on to race Rally Dakar, and this year, Chilean Pablo Quintanilla dominated the victors’ podium. More interestingly, however, this year’s Rallye du Maroc Enduro Cup win went to Amine Echiguer, a Moroccan motocross rider with serious rally ambitions. Echiguer is the first Moroccan rider to ever win the Rallye du Maroc EC, and it’s a proud achievement both for the rider and the country that hosts so many cross-country roadbook navigation rallies typically dominated by European riders.
Who is Amine Echiguer, and how did he claim the Rallye du Maroc Enduro Cup victory with no previous rally racing experience? We chatted with Amine to find out.
-Amine, what’s your background, and when did you start riding off-road?
When I was six, my father had a Honda Goldwing 1500CC flat 6 Cylinder boxer engine. I fell in love – literally! – with motorbikes. I would wait all week long for the weekend to ride with him, and most of all, to hear the sound of that engine! For me, it was the best feeling ever.
Then, I convinced my parents to buy me a Yamaha PW80. I had a blast riding it, even if it was so little.
As I grew up, I started riding motocross and I raced in the 85cc and then, the 125cc class. I did various training sessions in Europe to improve my riding skills. I won the Moroccan championship of Motocross two times in MX1, then in cross country, and finally, in beach races because I love riding sand.
-Coming from motocross, when did you start racing rallies?
The rally love story began with COVID19 lockdown. Morocco, like many other countries in the world, had to shut down its frontiers, so I started traveling a lot locally riding all over Morocco with an enduro bike. I discovered stunning landscapes and loved the feeling of freedom that it gave me. I realized that Morocco is the perfect land for enduro lovers, it truly is the off-road paradise. In just one country, you can find desert dunes, mountains, big lakes, small ergs, dirt roads, and experience various temperatures and altitudes – all in one single season.
I have the chance to live in a beautiful country, to have gained solid off-road riding skills, and I love the feeling that competition is giving me. So I took the opportunity to seriously prepare myself for rally competitions.
– What is the hardest part when you transition from MX to rally?
Rally racing is nothing like MX competitions. It’s like you’re telling a sprint athlete to run a marathon. The hardest part is to keep the same pace and focus on a much, much longer run. An MX race is 25 minutes, while a rally stage is about 6-7 hours. But moreover, on a motocross track, you know exactly what comes next, every turn, every bump… which is completely different than rally.
– Did you do a lot of rally/roadbook training before Rallye du Maroc?
To be honest, it was my weak spot as I didn’t have experience in roadbook navigation at all, as Rallye du Maroc was my first rally ever. But I have a little secret for you: I trained with Dakar18, the PlayStation game! I once saw Mathias Walkned doing the same on one of his Instagram stories. It helped me a lot.
– What bike were you riding? How did it hold up during the rally?
I was riding a completely stock KTM EXC-F 450 2021. I am impressed by the reliability of this bike, no issues at all. But then, we serviced the bike every night with the 300V Motul Oil. The issues came from navigation instruments that were shaken up a lot: the aluminum bracket module broke at some places and the whole add-on for the roadbook holder was not very stable.
– You are the first Moroccan rider to win Rallye du Maroc Enduro Cup. How does it feel?
I am very proud of it because it sends a strong message to all Moroccans that we can be good in rallies and that we can win!
– Was the race tough? What were the hardest parts?
I heard from GP pilots that Rallye du Maroc stages were harder than those in the Rally Dakar. David Castera did it on purpose because he wanted to select the participants for the next Dakar, so I guess that for my first rally, I couldn’t have hoped for better training!
The hardest part was definitely Stage Three – so many accidents, lots of traps… the concentration needed to be at its maximum, it was hard with the fatigue and the heat. But at the end, I was very satisfied as I overcame these difficulties.
– What are your next rally plans?
Rally competition is the best riding experience I’ve ever had. I look forward to taking part in other rallies. For now, the motivation is strong, I am planning to train even better than before, do some local rallies ( like the Morocco Desert Challenge), and the objective is definitely to be a Dakar 2023 finisher!
Follow Amine Echiguer on: Instagram