I can echo what Cadman said. We used Maxxis rear tyres this year on the rally (IT) and they did really well. We didnt change tyres until the end of thursday, and then it was only the rear. We used Maxxis IT rear and Metzeler 6 days extreme front, both front and rear with michelin desert mousses.
def no need to go out and buy a cush drive.
I would make sure that you have a water bladder in your pack which can take at least 3 litres and make sure you fill it full again at the service halt.