After an enjoyable rest day in Dakhla, with a bivouac set on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, under a magnificent sun the competitors of the 2017 AFRICA ECO RACE arrived in Mauritania after an express border crossing.
The 172 kilometers stage between Boulanouar and Tiwilit started on time. Fortunately it was still 31 degrees on the starting line. There was no major difficulty on this stage.
Due to mechanical failures of Thierry MAGNALDI and Dmitry AGOSHKOV the overall Auto ranking changed in the top 3, as well as the top 5 in the bikes category. And as René Metge pointed out: "This is only the beginning! "
This first Mauritanian stage was fast. . Fast equals power and the best bike at this is the HONDA Africa twin of Paolo CECI. As a result, the Italian won the scratch with 2'15 '' ahead of Gev SELLA who redeemed himself after his 17th place on the 5th stage.
The surprise of the day was Alexandre Vivien AZINHAIS taking the 3rd best time of the day. A good performance from this Portuguese rider and his KTM placed him ahead of Harite GABARI who suffered a lack of power - his bike has a carburator whereas most of the other KTMs are equiped with injectors.
Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER was able to rest in Dakhla and heal his sore hand after the fall, the Norwegian looks forward to the next stages where his experience should make a difference.
On the bad news side, Dmitry AGOSHKOV broke the engine of his KTM at kilometer 19 of the special stage. Sad news for the Russian rider who arrived in his favorite playground in 5th position overall.
Of the Malle Moto MOTUL riders, once again Guillaume MARTENS made his mark by signing the 7th fastest time of the day. The Dutchman is now at the gates of the top 5, just behind the Italian Stefano PELLONI.
After a 9-minute penalty received by Gev SELLA for time exceeded in the liaison stage, the young Israeli is only now 28'38 '' ahead of Paolo CECI and 52'17 of Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER. All is still to play for!
SERRADORI SLOWLY COMING BACK
At kilometer 39 of the special stage, a blue buggy stopped on the edge of the track, with a open hood cover. It is the Two Wheels Drive Buggy of Thierry MAGNALDI which hasn’t found a solution to its mechanical breakdown and which will therefore be towed back to the bivouac. A huge disapointment for the French driver, as until then he was 2nd of the overall standings and a possibly the only capable one of fighting with the MINI of Vladimir VASILYEV, still the leader of this 9th edition of AFRICA ECO RACE after his 5th place of the day.
On a day made for the two-wheel drive vehicles the SRT buggy of Mathieu SERRADORI who wins the scratch with an average speed of 140 km / h. A first victory this year after the worries he encountered last week. The Frenchman was delighted at the finish: "I dedicate this victory to my mechanics who disassembled the car from A to Z yesterday in Dakhla to restore it. I know I will not win this 9th edition. So I will try to make myself happy just like today."
Track drivers like the fast special stage because they are accustomed to the high speeds. Remy VAUTHIER, gentleman driver on track, author of the 2nd time at 31'', SERRADORI or Guillaume GOMEZ, who was 4th, 2 seconds behind Dominique HOUSIEAUX who continues to surf on the wave of success.
Behind, we find the usual playerd like the HUMMER of Miroslav ZAPLETAL, 6th, the FORD Raptor of Andrey CHEREDNIKOV, 7th, the BMW X3 of Victor KHOROSHAVTSEV, 8th and especially the KAMAZ truck of Andrey KARGINOV, 9th at only 4'45 ''. He complained of the limitation of the trucks at 150 km / h. The Russian is ahead of Pascal THOMASSE by 14 '' only.
A beautiful performance from Jean Noël JULIEN, navigated this year by his wife Rabha with their OPTIMUS buggy, who continued to progress and set the 12th best time.
In the overall Auto / Truck rankings, Vladimir VASILYEV is still leading with a comfortable magin of 1h17'50 '' on the KAMAZ of Andrey KARGIMOV. Pascal THOMASSE is still hanging behind in 3rd position, 22 '' from the Russian truck. The suspense electric.
On Monday, January 8, the race hits the first of the two Mauritanian loops, Tiwilit / Tiwilit of 440 kilometers, 414 of which is the selective stage.A stage that could bring a bunch of surprises.