American off-road racer Sara Price endured a baptism of fire at the opening stage of this year’s Rallye du Maroc – but the Can-Am racer was still smiling after posting a credible fifth fastest time.
Speed is good. Most of the time. But Price discovered you can have too much of a good thing as she was hit by penalties for breaking the 125km/h (78mph) maximum speed limit on Saturday’s 193-mile section east of Agadir.
Stepping out of her DirtFish-badged Can-Am, Price’s assessment of day one was forthright.
“It was a doozy,” she said. “It was pretty gnarly, my team is telling me it was one of the gnarliest they’ve seen, which is good. But we’re here and we’re still smiling.
“We’re good: the Can-Am’s great, we had no issues with the tires and Jeremy [Gray, co-driver] killed it. But this was a tough day.
“We don’t have an audible alarm for the speed limiter, so I got a bunch of penalties for that. Probably the biggest thing is the dust though. There are these huge trucks competing and they’re so quick on the straight sections and they make a tonne of dust!
We can’t pass them because of the speed limiter. Then they’re slower in the twisty sections, but every time I stepped out to try to pass them, the road was full of really sharp big rocks that could have killed the tires.”
Morocco is a major step in Price’s journey towards her debut on the world’s biggest and best marathon rally, January’s Dakar.
“In terms of progress towards Dakar, this was good,” she said. “We know the stages on Dakar will be long and even longer than stage one here, but we took a whole heap of experience today.
We certainly learned a lot. We’re here as rookies and, yes, I want to go faster, but to come back and see the whole team smiling at what we’ve done was great.”