AER 2012 - Leg 3 - Jean Louis Schlesser takes control

The second special section of the Sonangol Africa Eco Race took competitors to Mhamid with 8km of liaison and 375km of timed route. Less intense than yesterday and made up of actually tracks crews were led to the first dunes. It was fertile ground for Jean-Louis Schlesser who made dust in the car class while Elisabete Jacinto took the honours for the trucks and Italian Oscar Polli came home first in the two wheel category.

After a tough first day in Morocco everyone managed to reach the camp of Tarda this morning. Some took advantage of the big fire in the center of the camp to get warm as the temperature was well below zero, others recovered from the day's stage in their tents. The philosophy of the Sonangol Africa Eco Race allows those who failed one day to start the next, albeit with a penalty and so only one bike and two trucks are unable to continue.

Winner of the first stage, Norbert Dubois was the first rider to set off at 7.32 sharp. Two minutes later Oscar Polli started in an ideal position, two minutes behind and concentrated on following his rival rather than opening the route, the result being that there was only a small gap between the two KTM690 riders. And there is only a small gap now in the general classification with Norbert Dubois ahead by only 3 seconds. Again, third on the stage and third overall is Xavier Moreau on his KTM450.

The revelation of this early part of the event come from Joseph Palacios who is on his first rally in Africa but is riding his KTM 690 with ease. As for Pascal Delesque, the only quad rider in the rally had to be brought to camp on the back of th sweeper truck yesterday, but this morning he set off again full of enthusiasm.

In the car category, Jean-Louis Schlesser considered the second stage ideal for his Sonangol Schlesser Buggy. The three-time winner of the event was right since he won by over 18 minutes. Cyril Esquirol getting used to his new environment was instrumental in helping steer Jean-Louis through the many turns, which means that Schlesser now takes command of the event. Behind the blue buggy was Jacky Loomans who drove perfectly on the tricky Morrocan tracks, ahead of Régis Delahaye who suffered a puncture and a small navigational error. However, in the overall classification, the MD Buggy Rally retains second place at 10'22''l behind the leader while Jacky Loomans is ideally placed third. A good performance today came from the Fromont family, François Yves father and son. The French placed their Tarek Buggy TDI in fourth, just ahead of the magnificent Bowler of Vincent Demonceaux and José Castan, who are fourth overall.

In the T2 category reserved for vehicles four wheel drive as standard, the Belgian team composed of Gregoor Hans Bouwens and De Pauw lead the way. In the 'Open' class, Stephane Henrard and Cedric Legein in their Volkswagen Beetle were beaten by the Porsche 911 Safari German Erik Brandenburg and Wolfgang Starkloff. In te newly established SSV group Alexander Abdou and Thiam Maulin beat Thierry Morin and Daniel Vermeloux by nearly 20 minutes. Overall, Morin's Polaris RZR 900 is in 29th position.

Finally, in the truck class, Elisabete Jacinto won for the second day in succession and finished 6th overall. Second again went to Tomas Tomecek, 10 minutes behind. However the soft sands of Mauritania will be in the TATRA's advantage.

On the menu for the last day of 2012 is a 414km stage in southern Morroco with all the difficulties of the African roads. But once at camp a party will be waiting for the convoy!