For the forth consecutive year, the seaside resort of Saint Cyprien in the Oriental Pyrenees welcomed the start of the Africa Eco Race.
Even though the sun was at the rendez-vous yesterday, the temperature was quite chilly due to a cold wind. But as usual, the technical scrutineering which took placeon the Joa Casino parking located on the port attracted quite a crowd.
At 6:30 pm the start was given by Mr Loïc CARRIDO to the very first biker in the 2015 adventure, Norway’s Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER followed by David FRETIGNE and his 1200 Super Tenere YAMAHA, Anastasya NIFONTOVA from Russia as well as Great Britain’s Patsy QUICK .
On the car side the magnificent sounds of the two TOYOTA pick up trucks, both driven by Belgians, Jackie LOOMANS and Erwin IMSCHOOT but also Kazakhstan’s Kanat SHAGIROV, Balazs SZALAY and Russia’s Anton GRIGOROV impressed the crowd.
But its undeniable that the Buggies were the main attraction. The 'beetles' where looking very cool under the projector lights, rivaling the 4WD in terms of popularity.
Now, the question is... will the Buggies of Jean Antoine SABATIER, Philippe PORCHERON, Yves FROMONT, Patrick MARTIN or even Mathieu SERRADORI be able to achieve what Jean Louis SCHLESSER did in the first 6 races by winning against 4WD cars? The six time winner of the event will this time be taking care of the Radio Relay by flying an airplane all along the race.
The start ceremony ended with the 9 trucks registered in the Race, always really appreciated by the public which stayed until the end even the though the cold was getting more and more difficult to handle.
Today the rally caravan will head for Southern Spain in order to be on time for the ferry. The destination will be the same as last year - after having crossed the Mediteranean everyone will arrive in Nador, Morrocco at 5am on Tuesday December 30th.
This will mark the start of the first 117km long stage in northern Morrocco. A perfect training before the 3500km selective sectors remaining before the finish in DAKAR on January 11th 2015.