Four-time world rally winner Michele Mouton has explained her decision to return to the driving seat on this year's Rallye du Maroc, 10 years after her last competitive outing on the London-Sydney Marathon.
Mouton has returned to the World Rally Championship in an organizational capacity this year, working alongside FIA president Jean Todt and heading up one of the Frenchman's working groups. But she says it was the lure of Morocco and the offer of a Tuthill Porsche 911 that attracted her to take to the stages again on the Oct. 9-16 event.
"I'll do Maroc because it's a country I have never driven [in]," said Mouton. "When I started driving, Morocco was no longer in the championship and everybody was telling me: 'Oh, you don't know how good the Morocco rally was: it was the best time' and all of this kind of thing...'the fantastic road in the Atlas' and this kind of thing. It's for this reason that I'll start the Maroc Rally."
Having tested the 911 she will drive, albeit briefly, Mouton said she could immediately feel the passion for driving returning.
"With this modern suspension it's really an incredible car – it changes your life completely," she said. "This is the first time I have driven this kind of 'modern' Porsche. This is an old-fashioned modern car; I did London to Sydney a few years ago with this kind of car, but it's amazing how far it has come since then. I know the Tuthill family well, I finished second in London to Sydney with Francis, so I know the car will be good."
The marathon event will include 1,444 competitive kilometers – and has attracted other stars including Bruno Saby (who will drive Jean-Pierre Nicolas's Peugeot 504) and Bob Neyret, who won the original International Rallye du Maroc, and will be reunited with a Citroen DS for the African event.
"It's going to be a tough event, so I will have to be fit," added Mouton. "But I am going to enjoy [the rally]. If you enjoy the driving then normally you can perform well. I don't want to get stressed about this, it's not about that kind of thing. When I drive – and this will never change in my life – I always drive to drive the best that I can and then if you win, you win.
"But I'm not approaching this event saying, 'Argh! I have to win, I have to win!' I never did this in my life and I don't think I will start today. I want to enjoy and to be professional, but the key word is to enjoy."
Mouton will be co-driven in the 911 by Fabrizia Pons, the Italian who guided her to all four WRC wins.