With 8 degrees on the thermometer the temperature was much milder Thursday morning, at the start of the Oued Draa bivouac located not far from Mahmid. All the conditions were therefore met for a great day of racing.
Alessandro BOTTURI was smiling at the finish of the 463 km special between Mahmid and Assa. Riding his YAMAHA 700 Ténéré, the double winner of the event, had just won the stage and taken 2nd place overall from Pol TARRES.
“The stage was very beautiful with fairly buoyant dunes but the navigation was not easy. From kilometer 210, we caught up with CERUTTI and rode with him. Yesterday I found the pace high and I wondered if I was still old enough to compete with the two furious riders in front. Today it was even worse and yet I rode with them without problem. We'll see what happens next. »
By finishing 3rd today at 00:02:18, Jacopo CERUTTI remains leader of the motorcycle ranking aboard his APRILIA Touareg 660 with 00:06:20. The Italian had managed to keep the lead until halfway but was caught back following a small navigation error. We had to wait more than 30 minutes to see the first 450 arrive, including the HONDA of Italian Giovanni GRITTI, the KTM of Swiss Alexandre VAUDAN and the HUSQVARNA of Guillaume BORNE .
All three, separated by less than two minutes, are entered in the ROOKIE RIDER BY ACERBIS which will reward the best drivers under 35 years of age who have never participated in any major Cross-Country Rally. A great performance from Italian Andrea GAVA who, starting in 33rd, posted a magnificent 7th time on the handlebars of his BETA.
In the Auto/SSV/Truck category, it was once again an APACHE SSV which won on this 3rd stage. This time it was Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER ahead of the CAM AM of Heatcliff ZINGRAF and Gregory REVEST with 00:01:17, and the POLARIS of Éric SCHIANO and Camille POURCHIER back on track after their problem start of the test.
Overall, the former Motocross champion maintains the leadership on four wheels but only 00:03:35 ahead of ZINGRAF. Suffice to say,the battle rages, while behind the POLARIS of Frédéric HENRICY and Éric BERSEY clock in at 01:17:23.
In the cars, the TOYOTA of Belgians Pascal FERYN and Kurt KEYSERS finished 9th in the scratch at 01:14:45 ahead of the other 4X4 from the FERYN DAKAR TEAM of Koen WAUTERS and Kris VEN DER STEEN, just under 15 minutes behind. In the provisional general standings, FEYRIN is leader of the category ahead of WAUTERS.
In the truck category, by finishing in 11th position in this 3rd special, Czech Tomas TOMECEK remains leader of the desert behemoths.
After the second stage composed of 4 regularity sectors. Yves LOUBET, the Sporting Director of the event commented:
“This Classic category in Africa, following in the historic footsteps of the initial event with a finish at Lac Rose, is a blessing for the discipline. The playing field is fantastic and Alain LOPES, who mapped out the course and determined the zones and the average speeds imposed, did an extraordinary job. The participants will have a great time and the competition will be very competitive. The Classic race has the security, logistical and media resources put in place at the Rally. This race is just waiting to grow and could ultimately become the absolute benchmark for the discipline. »
Today, Friday January 5, another big stage awaits the participants with 467 km of selective sector and only 5 km of connection between Oued Draa and Fort Chacal.