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From sunrise, with sub-zero temperatures at the Boudnib bivouac, the day got off to a difficult start for the participants in the AFRICA ECO RACE 2024. The 383km special stage between Boudnib and Mhamid was not going to make it any easier.
While the competitors in the race, the Classic and the participants in the Raid were giving their all on the track, and the organising team was in place to manage the race, the terrible news of René METGE's death began to spread throughout the race. Suffice to say that the atmosphere was heavy on the Mhamid bivouac at the end of the day and that the performances on this 2nd stage almost took second place.
Whatever happens, the race will continue tomorrow as René, one of the pillars of the AFRICA ECO RACE, would have wanted.
In the Motorcycle category, the top three riders in the standings completed the 383km selective sector in just over 4 hours, averaging 92km/h and nearly an hour ahead of schedule.
Jacopo CERUTTI started first this morning and led the way all day in his APRILIA. Without ever being caught up, the Italian even widened the gap over the two YAMAHAs of Pol TARRES and Alessandro BOTTURI and now has an overall lead of 00:08:53 over the Spaniard and 00:10:17 over his compatriot. He was therefore rather satisfied at the finish:
"I really rode to my maximum today. I feel good on the bike and I have a good feeling with the road book, which is really well done. It's a long way to Dakar but for the moment I'm having a lot of fun, especially in today's short stage which I would have preferred to have been longer because I was enjoying myself so much.”
Behind him, Franco-Moroccan Guillaume BORNE confirmed his position, putting his HUSQVARNA in 4th place ahead of the KTM of Swiss rider Alexandre VAUDAN, both on 450s.
On four wheels, for the moment, the SSVs are ruling the roost, in particular the two APACHE T3 Hybrids which took the first two places today. Victory went to Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO, ahead of Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER by 00:05:24, while the CAN AM of Heatcliff ZINGRAFF and Gregory REVEST completed the special stage podium at 00:08:26.
In the overall standings, in his first participation in a Cross-Country Rally, Gautier PAULIN is in the lead ahead of Heatcliff ZINGRAFF. The former Motocross Champion and captain of the French team, winner of the Grand Prix des Nations a few months ago, is nonetheless very humble when he talks about his performance:
"The APACHE proto is incredible and great fun to drive. The two- or four-wheel drive mode, which allows either power to be stored or efficiency to be used, is complicated to manage. It's a real sport to be in the bucket. I did my first laps today in the Merzouga dunes. I clearly wasn't very good but that's normal, I need to learn. It was also complicated in the dust because I had to hold off. But I'm satisfied with the first two days all the same”
By finishing 9th today with their TOYOTA, Belgians Pascal FERYN and Kurt KEYSERS take the lead in the Car category and 6th place overall, just over 15 minutes ahead of their team-mates and compatriots Koen WAUTERS and Kris VEN DER STEEN.
In the truck category, the Czech Tomas TOMECEK, alone at the wheel of his TATRA, although 2nd today, retains the lead in the provisional standings ahead of the SCANIA of Dutchmen Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VAN VELSEN and Marco SIEMONS.
In the Classic category, a regularity race reserved for off-road vehicles built before 2000, after yesterday's liaison stage, the first five sectors were completed on this 2nd stage to Mhamid. Eric and Tom CLAEYS were the most consistent on their 73 TOYOTA Land Cruiser. The Belgians were ahead of their compatriots René DECLERCQ and John DEMEESTER on their BOMBARDIER Iltis, both great specialists in the discipline. Dutchman Peter BRABECK and Frenchman Jean-Michel GAYTE complete the provisional podium in a MITSUBISHI Pajero.
Tomorrow, the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan will head south to Oued Draa with 522km to cover, including 463km of special stages. It will be an intense day, with the Erg Chegaga sometimes difficult to cross. Manfred KROISS, the event's Sporting Director, decided to dedicate this stage to René METGE, his mentor and friend.
Source Africa Race
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