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Manfred KROISS announced the previous night during the briefing that the 11th stage of the 2024 edition would not be easy, both in terms of navigation and terrain. As often is the case, the Sports Director of the AFRICA ECO RACE was right, but the leaders in different categories did not falter and maintained their advantages over the 247 km of the day.
In the Motorcycle category, Pol TARRES was determined not to let anyone else take the victory in this final stage. The spirited Andorran showed his prowess on his YAMAHA 700 Ténéré, securing the stage win with a time of 00:07:33, ahead of the KTM 450 of the surprising French rider Attilio FERT, who had a beautiful rally finish. By taking the third place, just 2 minutes behind and notably ahead of his fellow countryman Alessandro BOTTURI, Italian Jacopo CERRUTI wins this 15th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE, providing APRILIA with its first victory in a major off-road rally. The two official YAMAHA riders, Alessandro BOTTURI and Pol TARRES, finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, with times of 00:06:38 and 00:18:21. These times were very close after more than 4000 kilometers of special stages, showcasing a fierce battle throughout the two-week journey on the tracks. Behind the three “Twin” riders, the revelation of this AFRICA ECO RACE on two wheels is Alexandre VAUDAN.
Riding a KTM, the Swiss not only won the 450 category but also the “Rookie Rider By Acerbis” challenge reserved for riders under 35 who had never participated in a rally lasting more than 8 days.
The over-450 category is claimed by Italian Giovanni STIGLIANO on HUSQVARNA, finishing 17th overall. The first female rider is the British Vanessa RUCK, placing her KTM in the 27th position in the motorcycle rankings. The first Junior, under 25 years old, is the Italian Marco MENICHINI, finishing 7th overall on a HUSQVARNA, while the first Veteran, over 40 years old, is none other than Alessandro BOTTURI. Finally, a word on the feat of this African fortnight as Joan PREDRERO managed to bring the official HARLEY DAVIDSON 1250 Pan America to Dakar and, more importantly, being classified in the 25th position. No one believed it, yet he did it!
It’s worth noting the quality of the motorcycle field this year, with 34 out of 47 riders who started in Monaco on December 30 last year being classified at the finish tomorrow at Lac Rose for the awards ceremony.
In the Car category, Pascal FERYN and Kurt KEYSERS were determined to win this last stage. With their TOYOTA Hilux V8, the Belgians finished 00:04:24 ahead of the Portuguese SSV CAN AM team, Ricardo SOUSA and Jorge BRANDAO, thus securing their 2nd place overall and claiming the victory in the Car category. This achievement was a tribute to the crew racing Jacky LOOMANS’ former 4×4, who passed away last week after a long illness.
In 3rd place in this final stage, we find Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO in their APACHE. A final honourable fight for the WRC2 World Champion, who faced some vehicle issues. Without them, he would have certainly performed better than this 11th overall position. Fortunately, the second SSV of this young APACHE AUTOMOTIVE team had no problems. The reliability, combined with the excellent performance level of this new Hybrid technology, allowed Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER to emerge victorious in the Car, SSV, and Truck categories. An exceptional victory for this French Motocross legend participating in his first race behind the wheel. It’s also an incredible win for a new SSV built by a French team that had never participated in any race. Once again, no one expected them to perform so well, but their dominance was complete with 7 wins out of 11 stages, including 5 for LOUBET. In the end, crew No. 260 wins the AFRICA ECO RACE with a lead of 03:45:08 over the second, and without incurring any penalties. A flawless performance!
In the desert giants category, Tomas TOMECEK wins by finishing 4th overall. The Czech, alone in his “old” TATRA, thus claims his 5th victory in the AFRICA ECO RACE. He is followed by the Dutch team of Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VAN VESLEN, and Marco SIEMONS, who won today and now stand in 5th position overall with their SCANIA. The GINAF of Cédric FERYN, Bjorn BURGELMAN, and Tom DE LEEUW complete the podium of the day and the event.
In the Classic race, Tom and Eric CLAYS win the event after 27 Regularity Zones and over 1000 km of tracks, demonstrating undisputed dominance. For his 70th birthday, the Belgian driver will have the honor of raising his 1986 TOYOTA BJ 73 onto the podium to receive the trophy for this inaugural AFRICA ECO RACE CLASSIC.
Today, Sunday, January 14, 2024, after a final liaison of 248 km to the mythical Lac Rose and a final stage on the beach for fun, the winners and finishers will take turns on the podium to receive the trophies and medals of the AFRICA ECO RACE 2024.
Text, Photo & Video Credits: Africa ECO Race
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