An extreme edition

The eighth edition of the MDC is over. After 3 years of absence due to the ongoing corona pandemic, it was a pleasant reunion with host country Morocco, its wide beaches, sandy plains and dune seas. For 8 days, another battle was fought between man and machine on the one hand, and a vast desert on the other. Once again, boundaries were pushed and the unknown discovered. The desert, in all its facets, showed us again how insignificant we are as human beings.

The Morocco Desert Challenge has had "extreme desert challenge" as its baseline since its beginning in 2008. In the first years, still in Libya, this referred to the enormous amount of dunes. When the rally moved to Morocco, the word "extreme" was used because of the long, heavy, "Dakar-worthy" specials. This year, despite a reduction of the race kilometers by almost 20% compared to previous years, the term has become even heavier. Due to a local heat wave, the rally became extra challenging, with temperatures of 40°C and more (something we have never experienced in the past 7 editions, in the same period). Cars suffered from vapor lock, on-board computers started to malfunction and participants and crew had a hard time.

Given the extreme circumstances, I would therefore like to congratulate everyone who made it to the finish line.

My sincere thanks also goes to my top organisation team. More than 200 loyal crew members gave their all for 10 days to ensure that everything went as smoothly as possible, both in front of and behind the scenes, in our mega bivouacs, in the middle of the desert. The sweepers, the medics, the logistics, catering & bar, the bivouac team, the press, the checkpoint crews, the race management, the fuel teams, and all the other volunteers were just like you tired to the bone at the end of the week, but wouldn?t want to miss it. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you for everything!

I would also like to mention the following: Despite the enormous safety measures (three helicopters, a large medical team, ERTF & Sentinel, Iritrack, physically manned checkpoints and a mandatory stop of 30 minutes halfway through the stage, good insurance, strict requirements regarding roll cages and petrol reservoirs, shortened stages, etc.) rally-raid, just like other extreme sports, remains a dangerous discipline. Eliminating all risks is impossible. In the past 7 years we have only had one death during the MDC; this year we regret two. Laurent & Bram, experienced navigator and rally rider, will forever be connected to the Sahara. As one of the participants described it on Facebook: "The desert is a dangerous place and rally is a dangerous hobby. The cocktail of those two is even more dangerous. And yet we do it again, ... and again. Because it's in our blood." We will therefore continue, but we will never forget these men, whose passion became fatal to them.

The Morocco Desert Challenge 2023 was therefore an extreme edition, which left no one unmoved, but honestly, it is precisely this extreme, pushing the limits of man and machine, what many are looking for.

We'll be back next year, with a new and adapted course, even more beautiful, even better. Put the date 11 to 20 April 2024 in your agenda.

To everyone who was there: Thank you and inshallah see you next year

Don't limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.