MONTE-CARLO (MONACO): Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) officials have announced a record-breaking increase in the number of competitors across all disciplines and the final details of a challenging route for the largest cross-country event in Africa.
The last stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE between Akjoujt in Mauritania and Saint Louis in Senegal went perfectly well. Starting with the special stage of 218 kilometers which left from the bivouac to join Fimlit, a village situated 80 kilometers from Nouakchott. This stage was without difficulty for the leaders of the ranking. It will therefore be a party tonight at the Saint Louis Bivouac where some competitors will be joined by family and friends.
As in 2018, this 10th stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE between Amodjar and Akjoujt was ruthless for the competitors, should it be in moto or auto category. The navigation was especially complicated. Proof is, if you calculate the average speed of the winners, which is 69 km/h for the motos and 78km/h for the autos, it is less than usual and therefore shows the difficulty of the stage. Therefore, many will be arriving very late at the bivouac tonight.
For the second day since the beginning of the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019, the caravan of the rally will not be moving as the competitors will be racing in a loop of 375 km around Chinguetti, city part of the UNESCO world heritage sites, located approximately 60 km from the Amodjar bivouac. A difficult day ahead for the competitors as the navigation, as many times before, will be challenging. On the other side, the sand was not as much as an obstacle as we would have thought and the 100 kilometers of dunes were raced without much difficult.
After the hectic day yesterday due to the accident of both OPTIMUS buggies on the arrival of the special stage, the atmosphere was back to normal and focused on the race leaving from the CHAMI bivouac this morning. Luckily, because this stage of 507 kilometers towards Amodjar is known to be extremely challenging. The clerks of the course of the AFRICA ECO RACE were not wrong and some competitors will be arriving late at the Amodjar bivouac.
After the cancellation of the 6th special stage yesterday because of the absence of the helicopters which stayed in Dakhla due to bad weather conditions, the race was back on track on the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019. This first real Mauritanian stage between Northern Station and Chami is long of 481km, was going fine until the arrival of the first two autos. Unfortunately, while passing the chronometer line, the buggies N°202 et 211 crashed into each other. If the four competitors miraculously came out without any serious injuries, the two buggies are totally destroyed. This spectacular accident which happened only 2 km from the bivouac, shook the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan. We must say that the results of the day were not the priority at the time, even though this accident will seriously change the ranking.
After an early morning start from Dakhla, the entire AFRICA ECO RACE caravan passed the Mauritanian at 10AM this Monday 7th of January 2019. A quick formality facilitated by agreements made between the organisation and the administration of the Mauritanian customs. From now on, visas will be done individually at the Chami bivouac by the agents brought on site.
The ultimate Moroccan stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE 2019, made up of a special stage of 420 km and of a 214 km liaison towards Dakhla, will have been more intense than what we would have been able to plan. Especially on four wheels where the battle between Buggies raged. Some are relieved to get out of Morocco. Others are worried about what is awaiting in the Mauritanian desert. But all are decided to take advantage of the rest day on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean to Dakhla to get back strength after practically 2000 kilometers of special stage in Morocco.
Temperature was 23 degrees on the arrival of the Fort Chacal bivouac, a locality situated approximately 30 kilometers from Laayoune. Ideal racing conditions for this 4th stage, as it has been since the beginning of the 2019 AFRICA ECO RACE. Also, since the first stage of this 11th edition, navigation is at the center of the racing and regardless of the precise road-book appreciate by competitors, it has been a tough challenge for most of them.
After the arrival of the special stage yesterday at the bivouac, this Thursday morning, the starting line was set up a few dozen meters from the AFRICA ECO RACE camp. A comfortable situation for the competitors who earned some well-deserved extra sleeping time, especially for those who arrived late during the night of the second stage which was very tiring. Luckily, today was without much difficulty for the participants, and therefore no bad surprises or incidents to declare. After three days of racing, a certain hierarchy is being set in this 11th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE, should it be two or four wheel category.
In the end, the first Moroccan night on the Bivouac of La Momie wasn’t as cold as cold as predicted as the temperature did not go bellow 3 degrees. Luckily because after this first long stage of the 11th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE, some competitors arrived very late. Therefore, repairs and maintenance went on a good part of the night. Nevertheless, besides Philippe PINCHEDEZ who is forced to abandon after his CAN AM SSV drove into a rift, all the participants were at the start this morning. On today’s stage, 430 kilometers that will be challenging for many.
This Tuesday 1st of January, at 6AM sharp, the “GNV CRYSTAL” ferry transporting the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan arrived at Nador port in Northern Morocco. After customs formalities, that were longer than usual due to a new software inaugurated that day, the race was able to start two hours late. A delay without consequence other than give the motorbike competitors a warmer start.