Africa Race 2024: First loop that should do some damage

 

Everything possible is being done on the AFRICA ECO RACE to minimise the impact of the event on the environment of the countries it crosses. To achieve this, setting up loops around a bivouac is an ideal strategy, as the rally caravan doesn't have to move around. This was the case today, with the start 20km from the bivouac of Chami and the finish 500 meters away after a 453km special stage. This first loop should do some damage to the standings, both on the bikes, where many riders are missing waypoints, and on the four-wheelers, where the gaps at the finish are quite substantial.

Once again today, the battle raged between the two-cylinder bikes in the motorbike category. But for once, one of the three race leaders was missing at the finish. It was Pol TARRES who, following exhaust problems on his Yamaha 700 Tenere, crossed the finish line almost 13 minutes after his team-mate Alessandro BOTTURI, the day's winner.

The Italian clawed back two minutes from his compatriot Jacopo CERUTTI, who came very close today with navigation problems at the end of the course and even a crash, fortunately not serious for him and his APRILIA 660 Tuareg. As a result, BOTTURI is now just one minute behind CERUTTI overall. Even though he will open the track tomorrow, he has gained a certain advantage over his rival and friend. Behind, even if Alessandro RUOSO places his Yamaha 700 Tenere in 4th position ahead of the BETA of Francesco MURATORI, first in the 450 class, it is very difficult to know exactly the final classification of the stage as many riders admitted to having missed one of the last waypoints of the course. The Motorcycle Jury will therefore have a lot of work to do this evening to confirm the standings. Finally, a word about Joan GARCIA PEDRERO, the rider of the HARLEY DAVIDSON PAN AMERICA 1250. The Spaniard, who suffered a fuel pump problem, preferred not to take any risks and avoided the dunes. He nevertheless made it to the finish and despite a few hours' penalty, he remains in the race.

Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO are having similar days on four wheels, as they once again won their APACHE today. It was their fourth stage victory, and one that has enabled them to move up three places in the overall standings. At this rate, the Corsican could be in the top 3 before the end of the rally:

"It's a shame we had a problem on the third day, because when everything's working, you're in for a treat. Today's victory goes to François BORSOTTO, who handled the complicated navigation at the end of the rally very well”.

The N°260 crew relegated the second SSV of Ricardo SOUSA and Jorge BRANDAO to almost 30 minutes. However, the Portuguese didn't spare any effort on their CAN AM, but to no avail. They finished one minute ahead of the Pick-Up TOYOTA of Belgians Pascal FERYN and Kurt KEYSERS, themselves three minutes ahead of Hungarians Imre VARGA and Jozsef TOMA also on TOYOTA. The third car was the TOYOTA of Dutchmen Teun STAM and René BARGERMAN, while the third SSV was that of Portuguese drivers Rui and Bernardo OLIVEIRA. As for the race leaders, Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER, they placed their APACHE in 7th position at 00:43:20 overall.

The runner-up in the Motocross World Championship, who was taking part in his first Rallye-Tout-Terrain behind the wheel, admitted at the finish that he had found it very difficult to manage his nervous state following a navigation error. Indeed, this extraordinary champion has always been used to seeing races decided by seconds. He therefore finds it hard to accept conceding minutes. But he still had a smile on his face at the finish and readily admitted that he would have to get used to the philosophy of this new discipline.

The first truck to join Chami was Tomas TOMECEK's TATRA. The Czech, driving solo in his truck, was around 8 minutes ahead of the SCANIA of Dutchmen Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VANVELSEN and Marco SIEMONS and 45 minutes ahead of the GINAF of Belgians Cedric FERYN, Bjon BURGELMAN and Tom DE LEUW. In the meantime, following problems on this 7th stage for the various leaders at the top of the table, TOMECEK is now in 3rd position in the provisional car-truck general standings.

In the classic race, after a day off, the serious business resumed today with three regularity zones and 149 km to cover, or links. Eric and Tom CLAYS are still in the lead in their 1986 TOYOTA BJ73. The Belgians are ahead of their compatriots René DECLERCQ and John DEMEESTER in their 1980 BOMBARDIER Iltis. Austrian Peter BRABECK-LETMATHE completed the podium, alongside Frenchman Jean Michel GAYTE in a 1998 MITSUBISHI Pajero.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 10 January 2024, the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan will head east towards the village of AMODJAR. The 390km special stage is 100% sand, which could prove complicated given the current heat in Mauritania, which is well over 30 degrees.

Source Africa Eco Race