THURSDAY 8TH OF JANUARY STAGE # 9: AZOUGUI / AKJOUJT: 391 km START FROM THE BIVOUAC STAGE: AZOUGUI / AKJOUJT: 367 km LIAISON: AKJOUJT / BIVOUAC: 24 km
UNEXPECTED SCENARIO UNFOLDS ON STAGE 9
The sun is finally back in Mauritania, bringing more consistent temperatures to the region and giving a boost to the caravan of the Africa Eco Race 2015 as it begins the final stretch of the rally. Good mood was prevalent Thursday morning at the bivouac of Azougui forthe start of the 367 km long stage to Akjoujt.
Pal Anders Ullevalseter edges closer and closer towards final victory. 2nd at the start in the morning, the Norwegian leads Robert THEURETZBACHER, his direct opponent in general standings, by over 22'48''. The Austrian who started quite nicely until CP3, got lost in the last dunes, giving away second place of the day to Ingo WALDSCHMIDT. The Namibian poultry farmer loves the sand and it proves, once again, he should be fighting for the final podium as he is now only 39 seconds behind Gilles Vanderweyen who finished 4th on the stage, saving his 3rd place in the overall standings.
The bikes category was busy on the 9th stage as from 4th to 7th, from Gilles Vanderweyen, Vadim Pritulyak, John Olav Lindtjørn and Norbert Dubois, all four bikers were covered by 2'30". A very exciting race developed with other bikers - Julian Sanchez, Stefano PELLONI and Anastasiya NIFONTOVA who confirms her talent by entering in the top 10 once again. Newcomers, Slovakia’s Jan Zaťko and Great Britain’s Robin POWELL are also edging into the top ten
In the Auto category Jean Antoine Sabatier arrived in first position and during ten minutes explaining that Mathieu Serradori had lost time due to a puncture and that he would arrive at any moment. The PREDATOR No. 211 coule be seen just 500m away from the finish line of the stage. But the blue Buggy did not move... so Didier HAQUETTE and Mathieu Serradori had to get out of the car to push it to the finish line. All their efforts were pointless as the Buggy was impossible to restart as the engine broke. A disaster for the French crew who had previously done a faultless stage. A huge disappointment especially for the former biker who had invested heavily to prepare for this race. Mathieu Serradori immediately left the bivouac to reach Nouakchott and fly back to France.
Jean Antoine SABATIER, the new leader of the overall ranks, has over fifty minutes in hand over the KAMAZ of Anton SHIBALOV. For the last two Mauritanian stages, the Franco-Moroccan will however have to manage his race and his Bugga ONE as it is rare to see KAMAZ in difficulty and, in addition to that, Sergey KUPRIANOV is in 3rd place in the general standings, at the wheel of the gas powered KAMAZ. In other words, Sabatier can’t afford a single error.
Anton GRIGOROV and his OSCAR put in a great performance once again by finishing 2nd on Thursday’s stage 9'13'' ahead of Patrick MARTIN and his VW Tarek at 34'38''. Kanat SHAGIROV with his TOYOTA and Andrey CHEREDNIKOV respectively lie 4th and 5th, in front of Philippe PORCHERON who finished sixth at the wheel of his buggy in front of Yuriy SAZONOV’s H3 HUMMER The Eastern countries monopolize the top places as there are 3 Russians, 3 Kazakhs and 1 Czech in the Top 10.
After the trouble he had Wednesday, Tomas TOMECEK caught up by putting his TATRA in front of the Elisabete JACINTO’s MAN truck and the KAMAZ of Sergey KUPRIANOV. Therefore, TOMECEK confirms his third place in the general ranks just behind KUPRIANOV and SHIBALOV in both KAMAZ trucks.
Friday the second last stage in Mauritania begins, and which should be a great stage for the Africa Eco Race 2015. This stage will start from the bivouac in Akjoujt and will finish in Toueila with a special stage of 342km, mainly consisted of crossing a very big and challenging dune pack which will make this stage unforgettable for all the participants still in the race.