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The driver Elisabete Jacinto won today the fifth stage of the Africa Race 2019, in the truck competition, and regained the leadership of her category. The Bio-Ritmo® team held the 419.37-kilometer special stage, fulfilled between Fort Chacal and Wad Assag, in 3h55m56s finishing the selective sector with a 14m20 lead for the second truck, the Belgian Igor Bouwens, and spending only 10m06s more than the winner of the day of the auto / truck classification, the Russian Sergey Kuprianov.

The special didn’t start well for the Portuguese who, at the start of the course, had to stop because of a mechanical problem. But they quickly solved the situation and managed to beat all their opponents and finished the stage in the 7th place overall. Elisabete Jacinto is again the leader of the T4 class leaving the second classified of the category, the Belgian Noel Essers, 1h40m away. The Portuguese ascended to the 7th position of the overall classification with cars.

Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho performed once again a great stage and proceed to Mauritania at the top of the race: 

"Today the day didn’t start well because we had to stop about two kilometers after we started the special. We had a mechanical problem, and we stood there for about eight minutes to solve the problem. But, once we resolved the situation, we have done our best to recover positions. This stage was complicated in terms of navigation because it was very wide, had few references on the horizon to guide us, there were several parallel tracks and so it was very easy to make mistakes. But, José didn’t miss a single note and we were able to always follow the right track with a good pace and, although we started poorly, we finished well", said the Portuguese driver.

Tomorrow will be the rest day of the Africa Eco Race which is fulfilled, once again, in Dakhla. For the fifth consecutive year, the camp will be installed on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean where the sun and warm temperatures will allow a true day of rest for both pilots and machines that will thus recover the energies for the second week of race which will be fulfilled mostly in Mauritania.

Source Bio Ritmo team's official press release
After the cancellation of the 6th special stage yesterday because of the absence of the helicopters which stayed in Dakhla due to bad weather conditions, the race was back on track on the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019. This first real Mauritanian stage between Northern Station and Chami is long of 481km, was going fine until the arrival of the first two autos. Unfortunately, while passing the chronometer line, the buggies N°202 et 211 crashed into each other. If the four competitors miraculously came out without any serious injuries, the two buggies are totally destroyed. This spectacular accident which happened only 2 km from the bivouac, shook the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan. We must say that the results of the day were not the priority at the time, even though this accident will seriously change the ranking.


If there was one that was happy at the arrival, it’s Simone AGAZZI who won this special stage. With a perfect navigation, behind the bar of his HONDA, the Italian moto driver was ahead Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER by 2’21’’. An incredible feat as the Norwegian caught up fast with Alessandro BOTTURI who was first on the track. The two-first in the general ranking then raced together, very fast, and this is what enables us to say it was a true feat. Therefore, AGAZZI passes in front of Martin BENKO who arrived 5th, behind Felix JENSEN who keeps a regularity in the race at each stage. In the leaders, BOTTURI is in front with 5’15 ahead of ULLEVALSETER. Needless to say, that this Mauritanian week is going to be intense between the two men.

BIG SCARE in the auto category

Even though they left with two hours delay, time to get the helicopters from Morocco to Mauritania, the auto special stage was going well on a 100% sandy track without major difficulties. The amount of people present at the arrival located near the bivouac, were looking forward to seeing arrive the yellow OPTIMUS Buggy of Dominique LAURE and Christophe CRESPO in first place, followed closely by Sergey and Aleksandr KUPRIANOV, also in an OPTIMUS. Especially, the image of the two buggies arriving racing against each other in the horizon would have been stunning. Unfortunately, due to a false manoeuvre in the dust, both cars collided. At this exact moment, the cars were speeding, and the choc threw them in several roll overs. An absolute unrealistic scene, which luckily had no physical consequences on the 4 competitors. On the other side, for the ranking, it is a complete catastrophe for Dominique LAURE and Christophe CRESPO who had practically won the special stage, and therefore, lengthen their time ahead Jean-Pierre STRUGO and Francois BORSOTTO, only 5th at 21’12’’. Unfortunately, the Buggy N°211 was totally destroyed and they will not be able to hit the road again tomorrow. And even if the car could have been repaired, the fact they didn’t pass the actual arriving point would have made them lose their first place with a penalty by the organisation. Therefore, the victory of the day is for the OPTIMUS of David GERARD and Pascal DELACOUR, just in front of the Tarek of Patrick MARTIN and Didier BIGOT at 12’29’’. In the general ranking, Jean Pierre STRUGO and François BORSOTTO take the first place in from of Patrick MARTIN and Didier BIGOT, when David GERARD and Pascal DELACOUR take the last place of the podium.


JACINTO settling his leadership in the truck category

Faultless once again today, Elisabete JACINTO, Jose MARQUES and Marco COCHINHO finish 5th in the auto/truck category at 27’59’’. The MAN of the Portuguese is ahead of Belgium Igor BOUWENS, Tom DE LEUW and Ulrich BOERBOOM’s IVECO by 9’30’’, as well as Tomas TOMECEK and his TATRA by approx. 20 minutes. In the general ranking, Elisabete is 6th in the auto/truck ranking and 1st of the desert beasts. With over 2 hours ahead of Noël ESSERS, Marc LAUWERS and Johan COONINX, followed closely by Igor BOUWENS with 6’14’’.
Tomorrow the AFRICA ECO RACE will take the direction of Atar with a special sector of 445 kilometers. The competitors will find their first dunes crossing quite challenging and landscapes as only Mauritania can offer at the end of the stage.

Ranking stage 7 : Chami / Chami*

Car / Truck :
1. David Gerard / Pascal Delacour n°210 (FRA) 04 :26 :40
2. Patrick Martin / Didier Bigot n°205 (FRA) + 00 :12 :29
3. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :14 :08

Bike :
1. Simone Agazzi n°116 (ITA) 05 :14 :28
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :02 :21
3. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) + 00 :04 :22

Overall ranking*

Car / Truck : 
1. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) 24 :39 :31
2. Patrick Martin / Didier Bigot n°205 (FRA) + 01 :13 :09
3. David Gerard / Pascal Delacour n°210 (FRA) + 01 :24 :24

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 26 :04 :58
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :05 :15
3. Simone Agazzi n°116 (ITA) + 02 :05 :26

Source Africa Eco Race's official press release
The 11th edition of the Africa Eco Race fulfilled today its day of rest in Dakhla, in the south of Morocco. At a time when five of the 12 stages of this great African marathon have already taken place, the Bio-Ritmo® team progresses for the second week of the rally, which takes place mainly in Mauritania, in 1st place among the trucks and in the 7th place in the joint auto / truck standings. Having enjoyed this day near the beach, the Portuguese took the break to review the mechanics of the MAN TGS of competition and to adjust the strategies for the days that follow.

Elisabete Jacinto, who is preparing to compete tomorrow in the Mauritanian tracks where the sand paths predominate, makes a positive evaluation of the first week of the race: 

"The stages in Morocco are always very difficult and tiring because the courses are very hard. We had some problems, but nothing that disturbed us much or that made us waste too much time. We are pleased with the results achieved, particularly because we have worked hard to get ahead of these very competitive trucks. For the next few days we don’t know what to expect because Mauritania is always a surprise. But we will do our best and hope that everything goes well", said the Portuguese driver.

Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho stood out in this first week of the race by fighting hard for the first place with their most direct opponents, the Belgian Igor Bouwens and the Czech Tomas Tomecek - who has won for three times this competition. From the beginning, the Portuguese were very reliable by reaching three places in the first stages of the Africa Race which allowed them to rise to the top of the category after three days. But it was on the fifth stage that they most stood out by being the fastest among the trucks. The Portuguese trio showed all their competitiveness by producing a fast and efficient progression that allowed them to ensure, at the end of a week of competition, the 1st place among the trucks and the 7th position of the overall classification.

Behind the Bio-Ritmo® team, at 1h40m is Noel Essers from Belgium and in third is his compatriot Igor Bouwens, who has a difference of 2h08m for the Portuguese. Outside the equation is Czech Tomas Tomecek who suffered in the fifth stage a penalty of more than 10 hours.

After the rest day, tomorrow will be held the sixth stage of the Africa Race between Dakhla and Chami. The day starts very early because it will be necessary to fulfill the customs formalities to cross the border to Mauritania during the morning. The special will count with 176 timed kilometers and the arrival at the camp in the middle of the afternoon will allow the assistance teams to check the vehicles before the marathon journey.

Source Bio Ritmo Team's official press release

Temperature was 23 degrees on the arrival of the Fort Chacal bivouac, a locality situated approximately 30 kilometers from Laayoune. Ideal racing conditions for this 4th stage, as it has been since the beginning of the 2019 AFRICA ECO RACE. Also, since the first stage of this 11th edition, navigation is at the center of the racing and regardless of the precise road-book appreciate by competitors, it has been a tough challenge for most of them.


After the victory of Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER today in front of Alessandro BOTTURI, it is an equal score of successful special stages between the Norwegian on his KTM and the Italian on his Yamaha. A perfect equality in the ranking, but it is not these points that will count, but the chronometer and Alessandro BOTTURI is still leader with 5’08’’ in front of ULLEVALSETER. Which is not much when you know how much is left to Dakar. Following these two drivers who are well ahead, the competition is on to be part of the podium. Simone AGAZZI, faultless since the beginning, had a small mechanical issue on his HONDA and ended up loosing thirty minutes. Therefore, the Italian ends up 10th on the special stage and the Slovakian Martin BENKO is catching up dangerously with a 4th position today, just behind the Norwegian Felix JENSEN, 3rd on the podium with 23’18’’from the leader. The 5th place goes to Philippe CAVELIUS, always still as regular. The French is ahead of his compatriot, Guillaume VIDAL, newcomer of the AFRICA ECO RACE. This pilot of the Chinese Team GXX is seriously progressing, especially in the general ranking as he won three places today.

Who will stop the LAURE/CRESPO team in Auto ?

It’s the question that everybody is asking themselves on the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019. Indeed, the Optimus N°211 was able, for the fourth day in a row, and therefore keep their 1st place overall. Dominique LAURE and Christophe CRESPO win the fourth special stage in a row with 1’27’’ ahead David GERARD and Pascal DELACOUR, their fellow team “Fous du Volant” members who drove a faultless special sector. In third position, Jean Pierre STRUGO and François BORSOTTO, onboard Team MD Rallye Sport official OPTIMUS, who are hanging on and only delayed by 2’14’’. Good day also for Yves FROMONT and Paul VIDAL who, by placing their TAREK in 4th position of the special stage, take on the 3rd place in the general ranking, just in front of Jean-Noël et Rabha JULIEN, penalized by an error of navigation which cost them thirty minutes. A hassle-free stage for Sergey and Aleksandr KUPRIANOV on their OPTIMUS. The Russians get 5th place in the auto category. The bad news of the day is Dominique HOUSIEAUX and Arnaud DEBRON made a roll. The OPTIMUS N°200 committed a mistake on km 380 after pushing hard to remain in first place of the special stage. After 4 rollovers the team will come out of this with a few contusions. If the mechanics are able to put the Optimus back on its wheels, they will be ready to leave again tomorrow as the AFRICA ECO RACE allows them to.

3rd victory for Igor BOUWENS in the truck category.

Days go by and look the same for the IVECO of Igor BOUWENS, Tom DE LEEUW and Ulrich BOERBOOM. The Belgium team succeeds again in the truck category by obtaining a superb 5th place in the auto/truck scratch. Even if this fast stage isn’t the favorite of Tomas TOMECEK’s TATRA, the Czech completes in 8th position today and 2nd in his category. Ahead of Elisabete JACINTO, José MARQUES and Marco COCHINHO’s MAN of just over 15 minutes, the triple winner of the AFRICA ECO RACE takes the lead again in the overall truck ranking in front of the Portuguese MAN and the Belgiums Nöel ESSERS, Marc LAUWERS and Johan COONINX.
Tomorrow, the final stage of this Moroccan week will bring the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan in DAKHLA after a 420 km special stage for the competitors followed by a 214 km liaison. Near to 640 km before a well-deserved rest day boarding the Atlantic Ocean.

What they said:

Felix JENSEN – KTM – TEAM ULLEVALSETER - Norway: 3rd special stage and 5th overall.

It is a very fast special stage and I must admit that I do not like much this type of terrain. It is also a tough stage for navigation. With Martin BENKO, we helped each other to find the correct tracks and it worked quite well.  For now, all is going well but I am impatiently awaiting the Mauritanian desert. 

Simone AGAZZI – HONDA – RS MOTO HONDA RACING TEAM – Italy: 10th special stage and 3rd overall moto.  

I fell yesterday and had a hard back. The medical team gave me pain killers that tired me quite a lot so I wasn’t at my usual rhythm. After the petrol checkpoint, I lost some mechanical pieces that I had to go back and get. It must have been my lucky day because I found both pieces. We repaired and left again. I was quite lucky as I could have lost a lot today.  

David GERARD – BUGGY OPTIMUS – TEAM NOMINEO AVENTURES MD RALLYE – France:  2nd special stage and 6th overall auto/truck 

After yesterday’s bad break where we spent over an hour sorting mechanical problems, we left in 11th position this morning.  We started passing in front of competitors and took it as a game. I must say the fair play of most competitors who uses the Sentinel alerts and kindly let us pass. A beautiful day with a very interesting navigation with my co-pilot who never gets lost, should it be at sea where he lives or in the desert during his holidays with me.   

Igor BOUWENS – IVECO – TEAM ART OF SPEED – Belgium: 5th special stage and 13th overall auto/truck. 

It was a real pleasure today on a magnificent special stage. I pushed a maximum and had fun with the small buggies. There are yellow ones, blue ones, white, black a bit everywhere. It’s much fun. I just had to stop to take off a piece of tire that was barely hanging, in order not to damage the body. I will continue to go full gaz to get closer to the competition after the three hours I lost the second day.


Ranking stage 4 : Assa / Fort Chacal*

Car / Truck :
1. Dominique Laure / Christophe Crespo n°211 (FRA) 05 :00 :33
2. David Gerard / Pascal Delacour n°210 (FRA) + 00 :01 :27
3. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :02 :14

Bike :
1. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) 05 :21 :00
2. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) + 00 :01 :59
3. Felix Jensen n°102 (NOR) + 00 :23 :18

Overall ranking*

Car / Truck : 
1. Dominique Laure / Christophe Crespo n°211 (FRA) 15 :46 :14
2. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :19 :00
3. Yves Fromont / Paul Vidal n°204 (FRA) + 01 :24 :11

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 16 :31 :57
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :05 :08
3. Simone Agazzi n°116 (ITA) + 01 :38 :09

Source Africa Eco Race official press release
Photos: Desertrun / Africa Eco Race
Elisabete Jacinto won today the seventh stage among the T4 class of the Africa Eco Race 2019, the first fulfilled in Mauritania, by being the fastest among the trucks to carry out the selective sector composed of 480.98 timed kilometers, held between Chami and Gare du Nord. The Bio-Ritmo® team spent 4h54m39s finishing the course of the day gaining another 8m30s to Belgian Igor Bouwens, who finished the race in second place in the category. With this result the Portuguese maintain the leadership among the trucks.

Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho completed the selective sector in most of the time in front of their class and finished the special in the 5th place of the table auto/truck, which allows them to rise to 6th of the joint general classification. After seven stages, behind the Portuguese team, in the second place of the trucks, follows the MAN of the Belgian Noel Essers with a difference of 2h10m. In the third place of the general is the IVECO of Belgian Igor Bouwens, 2h17m of the Portuguese trio.

For Elisabete Jacinto this was another excellent journey: 

"Today was a good day. It was a fast stage, but with a very difficult navigation. The road-book had several inaccuracies and very extensive notes that made things more difficult. We still had the crossings of three dunes, however, we managed to pass well. We did the whole stage with a good rhythm, very fast, and we ended up well classified. We couldn’t be happier with the today’s result",
said the Portuguese on the arrival at the camp in Chami, Mauritania. Today the Bio-Ritmo® team will have the added difficulty of having to work on the mechanics of the MAN TGS of competition without the aid of their assistance, since it is the first part of a marathon day that ends tomorrow.

The eighth stage of the Africa Race 2019 will be completed the second part of the marathon stage, which will be composed of a 445 kilometers selective sector. It will be one more day fulfilled in fast and sandy tracks but having traveled hundreds of miles without any mechanical help, the competitors will have to handle carefully with the mechanics because the last third of the route will be accomplished in several complex dunes.

Source Bio Ritmo Team's official press release
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Unofficial provisional results after the 5th stage of Africa Eco Race rally 2019.   These are the combined results of the Car and Truck categories.
To view the official and updated results, please visit: https://www.africarace.com/fr/course/2019/home

1 211 LAURE Dominique
CRESPO Christophe
T1 / 1 19:36:13    
2 203 STRUGO Jean Pierre
T1 / 2 19:58:43 00:22:30  
3 208 JULIEN Jean Noel
T1 / 3 21:04:13 01:28:00  
4 204 FROMONT Yves
T1 / 4 21:10:25 01:34:12  
5 205 MARTIN Patrick
BIGOT Didier
T1 / 5 21:13:31 01:37:18  
6 210 GERARD David
T1 / 6 21:37:15 02:01:02  
7 404 JACINTO Elisabete
T4 / 1 22:02:08 02:22:55  
8 202 KUPRIANOV Sergey
T1 / 7 22:07:55 02:31:42  
9 216 MOGNIER Gerald
OP / 1 23:06:17 03:30:04  
10 401 ESSERS Noel
T4 / 2 23:42:11 04:05:58  
11 405 BOUWENS Igor
T4 / 3 00:09:51 04:33:38  
12 403 VAN VELSEN Aad
T4 / 4 00:17:47 04:41:34  
FERRI Vincent
T3 / 1 00:36:03 04:59:50  
14 402 ELFRINK Johan
T4 / 5 00:41:29 05:05:16  
15 223 COUSIN Francois
COUSIN Stephane
T1 / 8 01:36:57 06:00:44  
16 256 FRETIN Bruno
T3 / 2 02:57:22 07:21:09  
17 240 WICKLOW Andrew
OP / 2 03:41:52 08:05:39  
18 259 PISSON-CECCALDI Jean-luc
T3 / 3 04:07:00 08:30:47 00h45
19 255 FRETIN Benoit
T3 / 4 04:23:37 08:47:24  
20 226 VARGA Imre
TOMA Jozsef
T1 / 9 04:59:48 09:23:35 02h15
21 228 SUZUKI Hiroaki
T1 / 10 06:31:10 10:54:57  
22 217 SHINOZUKA Kenjiro
T2 / 1 07:31:01 11:54:48 01h15
23 258 BIARD Alain
BELLAN Jean Paul
T3 / 5 07:56:36 12:20:23  
24 220 TITOV Alexey
RUSOV Andrey
T2 / 2 07:58:02 12:21:49  
25 221 COUEDEL Tristan
SINEUX Edouard
T1 / 11 09:44:43 14:08:30  
26 253 BARBU Laurentiu-claudiu T3 / 6 11:39:16 16:03:03  
27 209 GOSSELIN Philippe
T1 / 12 11:41:50 16:05:37 08h45
28 224 COUSIN Damien
PENET Laurent
T1 / 13 13:00:54 17:24:41 07h00
29 400 TOMECEK Tomas T4 / 6 14:42:48 19:06:35 10h15
30 408 LEVITSKII Boleslav
DOLGOV Stanislav
T4 / 7 14:43:20 19:07:07 10h00
31 407 DEN HARTIGH Coen
T4 / 8 16:15:07 20:38:54 09h45
32 409 SHKLYAEV Mikhail
LAGUTA Aleksandr
T4 / 9 17:38:16 22:02:03 09h00
33 251 MONEYRON Jean Hugues
BERRAZ Thierry
T3 / 7 17:59:05 22:22:52 07h30
34 218 IGNATOV Aleksei
CHUMAK Dmitriy
T1 / 14 18:07:16 22:31:03 09h00
35 252 RUFFIER Jean Claude
BOS Jerome
T3 / 8 18:07:25 22:31:12 12h25
36 219 SUKHOVENKO Evgenii
PAVLOV Evgenii
T1 / 15 19:27:12 23:50:59 05h30
37 260 SCANDOLA Graziano
SCANDOLA Michelangelo
T3 / 9 21:29:51 25:53:38 12h30
38 227 HIRIGOYEN Andre
CAZALET Francois
T1 / 16 04:51:26 09:15:13 17h30
39 212 PETRUS Gintas
T1 / 17 06:03:55 10:27:42 20h15
40 214 ROSSI Stefano
MARCON Alberto
T1 / 18 08:35:13 12:59:00 17h15
41 254 CECI Paolo
T3 / 10 14:44:39 19:08:26 22h30
42 222 PEDECHE Philippe
PERRY Philippe
T1 / 19 16:24:00 20:47:47 24h30
Elisabete Jacinto concluded today the fourth special of the 11th edition of the Africa Eco Race in which a flat tire in the MAN TGS delayed the pilot who ended up giving in the first place among the trucks, a position that she reached in yesterday’s step. Despite the setback, the portuguese remains in the fight for the leadership of the category having a small difference of 7m24s to the current leader, the Czech Tomas Tomeck. The Bio-Ritmo® team completed the fourth day of this African marathon, composed of a difficult and long route of 492.75 kilometers held between Oued Draa and Fort Chacal in 5h48m15s and was ranked 3rd among the trucks.

Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho were able to accomplish the selective sector without any difficulties, and only one flat tire blocked their progress: 

"The special was beautiful and very interesting in terms of driving. But it was not easy to fulfil because the courses were winding and had a lot of stone. So, we had to move carefully so we didn’t have any problems. Despite this, we were able to ride well at a good pace, but the bad tracks degraded the tires a lot and at one point we had a flat tire and we had to stop some time to change it which delayed us a lot. Anyway, we have had some happy days because the stages have been going well and we are pleased with the good results"

revealed the Portuguese who was 12th in the auto / truck classification.

The competition for the T4 has been very lively in which the Portuguese trio has occupied a prominent position by enthusiastically discussing the first place in the category against the Belgian Igor Bouwens, the winner of the day among the trucks, and the Czech Tomas Tomecek. Having been disputed four stages of the Africa Race 2019 the Portuguese now assume the 2nd place of the overall classification of the T4 and the 8th position of the joint classification auto / truck.

Tomorrow will be accomplished the fifth stage of the Africa Eco Race that is held between Fort Chacal and Dakhla and will have a total of 638 kilometers. This will be the last stage completed on Moroccan soil and has a very fast selective sector but complex from the point of view of navigation. It will be a very pleasant way to conclude this first week of race and get to the well-deserved rest day that will be fulfilled along the Atlantic Ocean in Dakhla.

Source Bio Ritmo Team's official press release
The race director of the Africa Eco Race decided to cancel today's stage, the sixth round of the race and the first to be played in Mauritania, due to bad weather conditions that could have jeopardize the safety of the competitors.

The selective sector that today would link Dakhla, in Morocco, to Chami, in Mauritania, was composed by a special which had 176.57 of timed kilometers. However, the stage was canceled due to a strong storm that was felt in Dakhla and didn’t allow the organization's helicopters to safely take flight. In this way, all the competitors followed to Chami by road and are now preparing to continue the race tomorrow. The team Bio-Ritmo®, having been disputed 5 stages, currently occupies the 1st position of the category truck and the 7th place of the joint classification auto / truck.

Elisabete Jacinto told what happened today: 

"We left Dakhla at 5:30 AM and made the entire trip towards Mauritania. We traveled about 380 km and at 10:00 AM in the morning we were at the departure point. Meanwhile, as we waited for the start of the stage, Jean-Louis Schlesser appeared that told us that it would be impossible to carry out the stage because there was a big storm in Dakhla and the helicopters couldn’t take flight and without them the race couldn’t proceed due to security issues. I confess that I was a little disappointed because the special was small and easy, and it would be the opportunity to prepare ourselves and see how the truck reacts to these tracks. But, at least, we had another day off and we will prepare for tomorrow", explained the Portuguese.

The seventh stage of the Africa Race will be disputed tomorrow, around Chami. This will be the first of two selective sectors to be held in circuit and it will have an extension of 480 km. At the final of the stage the competitors won’t be able to count on assistance, so they will have to solve any problems in their machines by themselves. The challenge will be greater after a day that will be dominated by sand and dunes.

Source Bio Ritmo Team's official press release
The ultimate Moroccan stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019, made up of a special stage of 420 km and of a 214 km liaison towards Dakhla, will have been more intense than what we would have been able to plan. Especially on four wheels where the battle between Buggies raged. Some are relieved to get out of Morocco. Others are worried about what is awaiting in the Mauritanian desert. But all are decided to take advantage of the rest day on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean to Dakhla to get back strength after practically 2000 kilometers of special stage in Morocco.

BOTTURI leaves Morocco as leader

On his YAMAHA, Alessandro BOTTURI was not lying this morning about catching up Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER who opened the track with his KTM. Once the Norwegian was caught up by the Italian, both men drove together for 400 kilometers until the finish line, swept away by strong wind. In the end, BOTTURI was ahead of ULLEVALSETER by 1’23’’ and in the overall ranking, 7’26’’.
Behind both strong men of the rally, in front of the KTM of Felix JENSEN, driving an Austrian machine, Martin BENKO takes 3rd place today and therefore 3rd place overall in front of Simone AGAZZI. The Italian preferred playing it safe until he feels comfortable behind the wheel of his HONDA, furthermore that this special stage was fast and needed serious navigation skills.
It is due to that today, that we saw several competitors driving in small groups, in order to collaborate and avoid the risk of getting lost or arrive late in Dakhla. The surprise of the day was the ranking of the Italian Domenico CIPOLLONE who takes 6th place on the special stage as well as on the overall ranking, in front of French Philippe CAVELIUS.
Great performance also for the Spanish pilot Juan Jose CAMPDERA LOZANO, 7th on the scratch and first in the malle moto ranking, drivers who compete without assistance, in which the leader is the French Stéphane HAMARD with an 8th overall.


KUPRIANOV leads the battle of the Buggies

When Dominique LAURE and Christophe CRESPO came out of their OPTIMUS around 2PM, they were not as satisfied as the previous days. And the reason is because a few minutes later, David GERARD and Pascal DELACOUR arrived at the finish line. This moment, it was sure, they wouldn’t win their 5th special stage in a row as Jean-Louis SCHLESSER did in the past. Especially when they saw Sergey and Aleksandr KUPRIANOV pass the finish line barely after the AFRICA ECO RACE TV production started interviewing David GERARD.
Knowing they departed in 6th place, everybody understood that OPTIMUS of the Russian did well and had just won the special stage, 33’’ in front of the TAREK of Patrick MARTIN and Didier BIGOT. A very small difference considering the 420 km of special stages disputed at over 110 km/h. Another OPTIMUS completes the podium of the day. It is the one of Jean-Nöel and Rabha JULIEN who end at 1’48’’ and take third place of the overall auto-truck category.
The overall ranking is still dominated by Dominique LAURE and Christophe CRESPO, 22’30’’ ahead of Jean-Pierre STRUGO and François BORSOTTO. In a different category, before the entrance in Mauritania, in the SSVs, Rudy ROQUESALANE, Vincent FERRY on CAN AM are running the show, same as Gérald MOGNIER and Pierre ROUBIN in the OPEN category with their Buggy PEUGEOT, François and Stéphane COUSIN in 4x4 and Kenjiro SHINOZUKA & Cathy DEROUSSEAUX in T2.

Elisabete JACINTO imperial in the truck category

The large smile of Elisabete JACINTO when she got out of his truck was satisfying to see. The Portuguese driver, perfectly assisted by Jose MARQUES and Marco COCHINHO, won first place in the truck category by getting the 7th time of the day at only 10’06’’ from auto leader.
Taking into account that the MAN team stopped 8 minutes after 3 kms for some mechanical problems in the intercooler, we can say it’s an impressive performance. A result that enables them to take the lead again of the truck overall ranking, also due to the clutch problems of Tomas TOMECEK TATRA, towed to come out of the track.
Good deal for Igor BOUWENS, Tom DE LEUW and Ulrich BOERBOOM, 10th with their IVECO and this, even though they had a problem with their turbo. The Belgiums are ahead of the Holland team Johan ELFRINK and Dirk SCHUTTEL who place their MERCEDES on the truck podium for the first time since the start of the AFRICA ECO RACE.
In the overall ranking, Nöel ESSERS, Marc LAUWERS and Johan COONINX are now in second place ahead of Igor BOUWENS, who clearly has the best progression.
This Sunday 6th of January 2019, the competitors of the AFRICA ECO RACE will benefit from a day of rest in Dakhla, this sand bank in the Southern extremity of Morocco where temperatures are around 25 degrees. A well deserved rest to reboot along the Atlantic Ocean before the second week in the Mauritanian desert.

What they said:

Alessandro BOTTURI - YAMAHA - ENERGY & SORRISI RALLY TEAM - Italy: 1st of the stage  and overall moto 

It was still a very nice special with lots of navigation. I quickly caught up with Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER. Then he followed me. I did not make a navigation mistake and we drove very fast. This first week ends very well on this magnificent rally. I am ready for Mauritania where I hope there will be no issue to continue and enjoy. 

Martin BENKO - KTM - SLOVAKIA RALLY TEAM - Slovakia: 3rd of the stage and 3rd of the overall moto 

I really liked this stage where we had fun while riding together with Félix JENSEN. The desert of Morocco is beautiful when it is green as it was the case today. I am happy to arrive at the Rest Day in Dakhla because I am very tired of the efforts made in Morocco with big difficult stages. 

Sergey KUPRIANOV - OPTIMUS ® - MD RALLY SPORT - Russia: 1st of the stage and 8th of the overall Auto-Truck 

I am extremely surprised to have won this stage. This is my first victory on the AFRICA ECO RACE. The navigation was very complicated but considering this success, I think we managed to find the right track. I am really happy and I hope that I will have the opportunity to do this again in Mauritania. 

Elisabete JACINTO - MAN - TEAM BIO-RITMO - Portugal: 1st of the stage and 1st of the overall truck 

What a joy to win today! Especially since we were forced to stop after 3 kilometers to put a hose intercooler dislodged because of a crampon that broke off a tire. We lost 8 minutes but I attacked a maximum throughout the stage and Jose navigated perfectly. I leave Morocco, which is my favorite field, at the head of the race. I hope everything goes well in Mauritania where we can waste a lot of time in the dunes. In the meantime, we will enjoy the Rest Day to work even further to improve the truck so that it is perfect next week. 


Ranking stage 5 : Fort Chacal / Dakhla*

Car / Truck :
1. Sergey Kuprianov / Aleksandr Kuprianov n°202 (RUS) 03 :45 :50
2. Patrick Martin / Didier Bigot n°205 (FRA) + 00 :00 :36
3. Jean-Noël Julien / Rabha Julien n°208 (FRA) + 00 :01 :48

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 04 :14 :11
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :02 :08
3. Felix Jensen n°102 (NOR) + 00 :18 :35

Overall ranking*

Car / Truck : 
1. Dominique Laure / Christophe Crespo n°211 (FRA) 19 :36 :13
2. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :22 :30
3. Jean-Noël Julien / Rabha Julien n°208 (FRA) + 01 :28 :00

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 20 :46 :08
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :07 :16
3. Martin Benko n°109 (SVK) + 02 :02 :08

Source Africa Eco Race official press release
After the arrival of the special stage yesterday at the bivouac, this Thursday morning, the starting line was set up a few dozen meters from the AFRICA ECO RACE camp. A comfortable situation for the competitors who earned some well-deserved extra sleeping time, especially for those who arrived late during the night of the second stage which was very tiring. Luckily, today was without much difficulty for the participants, and therefore no bad surprises or incidents to declare. After three days of racing, a certain hierarchy is being set in this 11th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE, should it be two or four wheel category.



We can’t say the motorbike drivers were very enthusiast upon their arrival, unlike some of their colleagues from auto-truck category. Indeed, the moto drivers do not appreciate much gravel tracks and that was most of today’s stage. But regardless, they were still some good mood in the air, even for Simone AGAZZI, who after falling off his bike, asked us where all these stones were coming from ! The Italian pilot takes 3rd place, 11’32’’ from Alessandro BOTTURI, winner of the stage with 2’38’’ in front of Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER. The YAMAHA of the Italian leader has now 7’07’’ on the KTM of the Norwegian. A small head start who does not seem to worry much the double champion who is looking forward to the next stages. Amongst the notable performances of the day, Martin BENKO finished 4th with 32’29’’. The Slovakian, known for his regularity is 5’25’’ in front of Francisco ARREDONDO who’s back in the top 5 of the special stage. The first of the +700 is Paolo CAPRIONI in 12th position. The Italian is ranked ahead Jan ZATKO, first in +450 category. In the general ranking, it’s the Swede Henrik RAHM who leading the +450 category and again CAPRIONI for the +700. When it comes to the only female competitor of the race, Julie VANNEKEN, despite arriving late last night, the French took a good start this morning and is driving her way slowly straight to Dakar.


Sometimes we ask ourselves if Jean Louis SCHLESSER doesn’t have the gift of clairvoyance. Indeed, you can remember that during the podium start in Monaco, the 6 time winner of the race declared that competitors should pay attention to Dominique LAURE who could come with surprises. Maybe this is what boosted the French pilot as once more, Dominique LAURE et Christophe CRESPO were ahead and no other competitor was able to catch up. We can clearly state that “Malabil et Malabar”, the “Fous du Volant” OPTIMUS N°211 are dominating the category. By staying ahead of Jean-Pierre STRUGO and François BORSOTTO by 1’42’’, as well as Jean Noël & Rabha JULIEN by 7’26’’, they are confirming their leadership on the temporary general ranking and have now 16’46’’ in front of STRUGO/BORSOTTO and 48’59’’ ahead of the JULIEN family. Again in the general ranking, another side competition is taking place between the TAREK of Yves FROMON & Paul VIDAL and the one of Patrick MARTIN & Didier BIGOT, 4th and 5th place with less than 10 minutes separating them. Still in the general, in their NISSAN NAVARRA, François and Stéphane COUSIN are still leaders of the 4x4 category, in 13th position when Alexey TITOV and Andrey RUSOV’s FORD RAPTOR are still in the lead of the T2 category. Satisfying performance also of the French driver Rudy ROQUESALANE & Vincent FERRI, 1st in SSV category and 11th overall in their CAN AM X3.



Once again on the AFRICA ECO RACE, the competition is raging in the truck category. After loosing three hours yesterday due to steering issues on the IVECO, Igor BOUWENS, Tom DE LEEUW & Ulrich BOERBOOM succeeded today and got 6th place on the auto/truck scratch. But the Belgiums still have competition with Elisabete JACINTO, José MARQUES & Marco COCHINHO who finish 1’30’’ behind. Therefore, the MAN ends up in 6th place in the overall auto/truck ranking. The Portuguese driver is now head of the truck category with 9 minutes ahead the Tatra of the Czechoslovak Tomas TOMECEK. On board his MAN, the Belgium Noël ESSERS is for now still in 3rd position in front of the Netherland GINAF of Aad VAN VELSEN. 
Tomorrow, Friday 4th of January, the AFRICA ECO RACE with head down South to join Fort Chacal. A special stage of 495km during which, once again, navigation will be the key to the podium.

Ranking stage 3 : Agdal / Assa*

Car / Truck :
1. Dominique Laure / Christophe Crespo n°211 (FRA) 04 :24 :43
2. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :01 :42
3. Jean-Noël Julien / Rabha Julien n°208 (FRA) + 00 :07 :26

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 04 :36 :26
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :02 :38
3. Simone Agazzi n°116 (ITA) + 00 :18 :32

Overall ranking*

Car / Truck : 
1. Dominique Laure / Christophe Crespo n°211 (FRA) 10 :45 :41
2. Jean-Pierre Strugo / François Borsotto n°203 (FRA) + 00 :16 :46
3. Jean-Noël Julien / Rabha Julien n°208 (FRA) + 00 :48 :59

Bike :
1. Alessandro Botturi n°103 (ITA) 11 :08 :58
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter n°100 (NOR) + 00 :07 :07
3. Simone Agazzi n°116 (ITA) + 00 :45 :53

Source Africa Eco Race's official press release
Photos: Africa Race / Desert Run    and    Bio Ritmo Team /AIFA

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