Africa Eco Race 2024
Submitted on Mon, 01/08/2024 - 23:49



The AFRICA ECO RACE caravan got up at the crack of dawn on Monday 8 January to complete the 370km route to the Moroccan border. A typical Moroccan buffet awaited the participants before they left the country and crossed No Man's Land into Mauritania. After passing through customs and completing a 30km liaison, the competitors in this 15th edition started from Boulanouar for the 205km special stage to the Chami bivouac. It was an ideal start to the second week of the rally, which saw them discover the sandy tracks.

In the 450 category, however, Guillaume BORNE, the revelation of the early stages, crashed out at kilometre 8 of the special stage. The Franco-Moroccan was picked up with a shoulder and rib problem. He was taken to hospital in Nouakchott for further tests. The rider of the N°125 HUSQVARNA therefore offers the lead in the 450 classification to Giovanni GRITTI on a HONDA. The Italian, who is none other than the son of Alessandro GRITTI, a true legend of off-road motorcycling in Italy, set the 7th fastest time of the day. The good news for him is that he could also make up for the minutes he lost when he stopped to assist BORNE. GRITTI now has an overall lead of more than 45 minutes over Alexandre VAUDAN. By finishing 6th in Chami, the Swiss rider is now leader of the ROOKIE RIDERS BY ACERBIS category, set up to reward newcomers to a major rally.

Today, the big guns were out in force, with only twin-cylinder bikes in the top 5, with the YAMAHA of Italian Alessandro RUOSO in 4th place, ahead of the APRILIA of Francesco MONTANARI. There were plenty of Italian-sounding names, and for good reason, with eight Italians in today's top 10 and six in the provisional overall. Among them is Marco Aurelio FONTANA, bronze medallist in the mountain bike event in London in 2012 and therefore the first Olympic medallist to take part in a motorbike rally.

On four wheels, the two APACHE SSV were untouchable on this first Mauritanian stage, which was entirely sandy and very fast. Pierre-Louis LOUBET and François BORSOTTO scored their third special stage victory. The WRC driver beat his team-mate Gautier PAULIN, driven by Rémi BOULANGER, brother of Edouard BOULANGER, the co-driver of a certain Stéphane PETERHANSEL, by 00:05:39. 3rd place on four wheels went to the SCANIA of Aad VAN VELSEN, Michel VAN VELSEN and Marco SIEMONS at 00:06:44. A very fine performance for this Dutch trucker, a regular on the AFRICA ECO RACE and increasingly competitive on this truck bought from Hungarian Miklos KOVACS after his victory in the category in 2020.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 8 January 2024, the first of the two loops of this 15th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE will take the competitors from "Gare Du Nord", 20 km from Chami, to a finish directly at the bivouac, after 453 km of special stages. The first big chunk in the Mauritanian sands could make all the difference.


Submitted on Mon, 01/08/2024 - 23:49