Africa Eco Race completes the final stage in Morocco before heading to Mauritania

Africa Eco Race completes the final stage in Morocco before heading to Mauritania

Saturday Review:


This final stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE on Moroccan soil was completed at lightning speed, with the 404km selective sector completed in 03:31:53 for the bike and 03:31:53 for the car, identical time to the nearest second! Something rarely seen in the history of Cross-Country Rallies. This is due to the fact that this year the cars, SSVs and trucks have been neutralised for 20 minutes, just like the bikes. 

In motorcyclingthe battle between Jacopo CERUTTI's APRILIA and the two YAMAHAs of Pol TARRES and Alessandro BOTTURI went in favour of the latter. The Italian won with a lead of 00:01:57 over his team-mate and 00:03:57 over CERUTTI. In other words, the three riders crossed the finish line together for the third time in a row. 

It is therefore impossible to separate them in Morocco because CERRUTI, leader since day one, has 00:03:15 over BOTTURI and a further 30 seconds over TARRES. 

This situation could quickly change in Mauritania, as the terrain will be so selective. 

Behind, on his KTM, Swiss rider Alexandre VAUDAN put things right after his navigation error yesterday. He finished 4th, just 00:10:50 behind the winner, ahead of the APRILIA of Italian Francesco MONTANARI by 00:14:46 and Frenchman Atilio FERT on a KTM by 00:15:46. In the MOTUL XTREME RIDER class, victory of the day went to the likeable French rider Nicolas BOTTU on a KTM, while Italian Stefano CHIUSSI extended his lead over Frenchman Antoine DETOURBET, both on HUSQVARNA. 

On four wheels Belgian Koen WAUTERS had promised this morning to give his all to win, as this 5th stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE was the end of the road for him. This competitor is a successful singer in Belgium and the Netherlands, and  begins a series of concerts on January 11th and had to return to Belgium for two days of rehearsals. 

Koen WAUTERS kept his word at the wheel of his TOYOTA Pick-Up and perfectly navigated by Kris VEN DER STEEN he won with a lead of 00:02:46 over the Hungarians Imre VARGA and Jozsef TOMA, also with a TOYOTA. 

In 3rd place was the first SSV, the CAN AM of Carlos VENTO and Carlos RUIZ MORENO, still more than 8 minutes and 13 seconds ahead of Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO. A logical gap on this type of terrain which favours speed, since SSVs are limited to a maximum of 130 km/h, while cars can reach 170 km/h. 3rd place overall went to the TOYOTA of Belgian drivers Pascal FEYRIN and Kurt KEYSERS, while the 3rd place SSV was the CAN AM of Portuguese drivers Ricardo SOUSA and Jorge BRANDAO. 
The 3rd car of the day was the TOYOTA of Dutchmen Teun STAM and Rene BRARGEMAN who were also 1st in T1 Diesel.

In the provisional overall standings, Frenchmen Gautier PAULIN and Remi BOULANGER are leading the race in their APACHE with a lead of 02:09:39 over the POLARIS of their compatriots Frédéric HENRICY and Eric BERSEY, while Carlos VENTO and Carlos RUIZ MORENO are at 02:36:01. 

In the truck category, another victory for the TATRA of Czech Tomas TOMECEK by just under 4 minutes over the SCANIA of Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VAN VELSEN and Marco SIEMONS. The GINAF of the Belgians Cedric FEYRIN, Bjorn BURGELMAN and Tom DE LEEUW finished 3rd in the desert behemoths, a position they also occupied in the provisional overall truck standings behind leader TOMECEK and runner-up VAN VELSEN.

In the Classic race, after the day's 4 Regularity Zones of 30 km, 31 km, 40 km and 51 km respectively, leaving Morocco with 15 ZRs Belgians Eric and Tom CLAEYS are in the lead in their TOYOTA Land Cruiser BJ73. They are ahead of their compatriots.

Rene DECLERCQ and John DEMEESTER in a BOMBARDIER Iltis, while the MITSUBISHI PAJERO of Austrian Peter BRABECK-LETMATHE and Frenchman Jean-Michel GAYTE is in 3rd place. But the rankings are very tight, with crews fighting it out with a score of zero points and no less than 12 ZRs left on the very complicated Mauritanian terrain to make the difference. So nothing is decided yet!

Today, Sunday 7 January, the participants in this 15th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE will be able to recharge their batteries and overhaul their vehicles at the Dakhla bivouac set up on the edge of the lagoon. A much-needed break before the second week of the race in Mauritania.

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