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Africa Race 2024: Amodjar-Amodjar: The most beautiful special of the Africa Eco Race 2024

Africa Race 2024: Amodjar-Amodjar: The most beautiful special of the Africa Eco Race 2024

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All the competitors were unanimous upon arriving at the finish line located on the runway of the Chinguetti airfield in saying that this 9th stage in the form of a loop around Amodjar was the most beautiful so far in this 15th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE. But it was also the most difficult, with a copious 90km stretch of dunes and, once again, varied terrain that was hard on both machines and men. All this over 363 kilometers in blazing sunshine. As a result, the gaps at the finish were quite large, and the rankings were shaken up several times, except at the top of the table.

As has been the case every day since the start of the event, three motorbike headlights were seen on the horizon by the CP finishers and journalists. And guess what, they were 103, 111 and 113, namely Alessandro BOTTURI, Jacopo CERUTTI and Pol TARRES. The two YAMAHA 700 Tenere and the APRILIA 660 Tuareg.

For the moment, these three riders are unable to decide between themselves on the track. Victory should have gone to BOTTURI ahead of CERRUTI and TARRES. But a 6-minute penalty for excessive speed in a SZ deprived BOTTURI of victory and relegated him this evening to 00:07:04 behind CERUTTI. It was an unwelcome penalty two days from the finish for the only driver to be free of any penalties since the start of the rally.

Behind him was the superb performance of Italian Olympic medalist Marco Aurelio FONTANA, 4th on his HONDA by just 18 minutes and taking part in his first major rally. He was ahead of Marco MENICHINI, in the top 5 for the first time, aboard his HUSQVARNA, and Giovanni GRITTI, who had a scare when he crashed his HONDA. Fortunately, it wasn't serious! The same punishment was meted out today to Alexandre VAUDAN, leader of the Rookie Rider By Acerbis challenge and victim of a heavy crash that damaged his KTM.

The Swiss rider was stunned at the finish, which he still managed to finish in 7th position, just ahead of French rider Atilio FERT, who was waiting for the difficult course to shine. It's a done deal!

But the performance of the day went to Juan Pedrero Garcia. The HARLEY DAVIDSON 1250 PAN AMERICA set off in 23rd position. After a crash at kilometer 40, the Spanish giant put in a strong attack, including in the dunes, to claim the 9th fastest time of the day. A real achievement when you consider that the course was far from ideal for the 'big' HARLEY. Finally, a word about Kevin DURAND, who also cracked the top 10 for the first time. The Frenchman had a huge smile on his face at the finish, such was his delight. In the Motul Xtrem Rider category, a second consecutive victory for Frenchman Patrice CARILLON who, by finishing 13th, strengthened his position in the provisional overall standings in this category of unassisted motorbike trunks.

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And that makes five! Fifth special stage success for Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO. The French driver celebrated the signing of his WRC2 contract with SKODA with a victory. After yesterday's mechanical problem, the Corsican started 7th this morning. That didn't stop him from winning the special stage 36 seconds ahead of the CAN AM of Carlos VENTO and Carlos RUIZ MORENO. Heatcliff ZINGRAF and Gregory REVEST completed the day's podium.

As for Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER, after a puncture in the morning, the overall leaders drove the other APACHE of LOUBET, without ever forcing the pace in order to save as much as possible on fuel. The Frenchmen nevertheless finished fifth. It was an ideal day for the SSVs, as they had to drop down to 7th position to find the first car with the TOYOTA of Pascal FERYN and Kurt KEYSERS. The Belgians were 24 minutes ahead of the TOYOTA of Dutchmen Teun STAM and Rene BARGERMAN. Hungary's Imre VARGA and Jozsef TOMA took 3rd place by just 59 seconds.

In the truck category, Tomas TOMECEK was once again the winner. Alone at the wheel of his TATRA, the Czech beat the GINAF of Belgium's Cedric FERYN, Bjorn BURGELMAN and Tom DE LEUW, while the Dutchmen Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VAN VELSEN and Marco SIEMONS finished 3rd for once with their SCANIA. Overall, Tomas TOMECEK is just off the podium in the Car/SSV/Truck rankings of this AFRICA ECO RACE 2024.

In the Classic race, Rene DECLERCQ and John DEMEESTER won the 21st Regularity Zone of 35 km on this 9th stage. Driving their 1980 BOMBARDIER Iltis, the Belgians beat Austria's Peter BRABECK-LETMATHE and France's Jean-Michel GAYTE. Andres BRABECK-LETMATHE and Laurent MAGAT, also in a 1998 MITSUBISHI Pajero, won the day's bronze medal.

Tomorrow, the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan will head for the village of Akjoujt on the road between Atar and Nouakchott. The 413km stage, 387km of which will be a special, will start from the bivouac and will allow all those in attendance to watch the race vehicles take off. This will be the penultimate opportunity to shine on a route that is 90% sand, making it a real test of driving skills.

Source: Africa Eco Race

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