2011 AFRICA ECO RACE: LEG 9

First victory for Stéphane Henrard
After five victories in a row, Jean-Louis Schlesser stopped his beautiful series today on the Africa Eco Race 2011. Winners of the day are the Belgian Stéphane Henrard and François Beguin. Better and better since three days, the VW TDI Buggy won in the dunes between Guelb Agantour and Tenadi. It is its first victory in the race, ahead of the two blue Buggies.

Third in the « starts » this morning, the VW TDI Buggy followed the blue buggies, which started first after their victory of yesterday. Jean-Louis Schlesser let the initiative to his teammate. After having passed the leader of the race, Stéphane Henrard followed his direct competitor in the overall classification. The Belgian took the opportunity when the second blue buggy was a little bit stuck in the dunes. At the finish line, the VW TDI Buggy is six minutes ahead of Schlesser. Lethier is third today, and lost almost eigth minutes on Henrard. Fourth of the day, Jérome Pélichet and Eugénie Decré (Wildcat Bowler) are still in the control mode to defend their second place in the overall classification. At the finish line, the grey Wildcat Bowler is ahead of the red Buggy of Gérard Benielli and the other Wildcat of… Edmond Pélichet, who is still at the top even if he is 72 years old!

Bad news of the day, after the retirement (gear-box broken) of Gilles Florin and Hervé Cotel’s Buggy, few competitors were still in difficulty in the stage.

The Dutchman Kees Tijsterman broke his engine and Abouyousses-Nour El Din had some mechanicals problems as well. Fifth in the overall, they hope to fix their Desert Warrior as soon as possible.

In the motorbikes category the stage is for Willy Jobard (KTM 525 Hybrid). Still the leader in the overall classification, the French rider is ahead of Norbert Dubois (KTM 690), who had an advantage with his powerful bike at the beginning of the stage, before few falls without consequences in the dunes.

The best since we are in Mauritania with his Tatra, Tomas Tomecek was still the fastest in the truck category today. Fifth of the stage, the giant Czech is ahead of the little Unimog of the Frenchman Salvatore, while the MAN of Jacinto and Essers were still fighting in the dunes, very soft again, in this stage.

WHAT THEY SAID

BIKES

Willy Jobard (Fra/KTM 525 Hybride): « Another beautiful stage dense in navigation today. Thanks to René Metge, because unlike some other important rallies, I wasn’t bored even once since the beginning of the Africa Eco Race. With my Hybrid system, I have won a little bit of power in the dunes, so it avoids my engine to overheat…

Norbert Dubois (Fra/KTM 690): « With my “big” bike, it was an advantage at the beginning of the stage, because it was really fast. Then, in the dunes, I had some problems… Here, suddenly, the weight of my bike was a big disadvantage…”

CARS

Stéphane Henrard (Bel/Buggy VW TDI): « Today, we made the perfect stage. At last we are not unlucky… Jean-Louis tried to favor his teammate, but we passed him when Lethier was stuck in a dune. The car works really well and I think that we will be good for the last three stages of this rally.”

Jean-Louis Schlesser (Fra/Buggy Original): « Firstly, I want to say well done to Stéphane for this beautiful victory. He is a good driver and this victory is deserved. It was a difficult stage today and sadly, François put himself in a whole. It’s a pity…”

François Lethier (Fra/Buggy Original): «We opened the track during 200km and, then, we got stuck in a little dune. It is frustrating because I hoped to fill the gap with Henrard, because I’m fighting with him for the podium, but Dakar is still far away…”

Jérôme Pélichet (Fra/Bowler Wildcat): «Twenty minutes behind? It is what we expected today. I still have some margin for the two next stages to stay at the second position in the overall classification.”

Bruno Oliveira (Por/Bolwer Wildcat): «Since the beginning of the rally, we enjoy a lot. Our Bowler is very good and we learn a little bit more every day. People always say that it will be more difficult the following day but, honestly, we are better and better. It is very good!

Mido Abouyoussef (Egy/Desert Warrior): « We broke a part of our car in a dune. Then, we drove as we could, and we reached the finish line like that… I thought that we were going to lose the fifth position in the overall classification, but we saw Sireyjol who was stuck in the dunes! So we still have some hope…”

Edmond Pélichet (Fra/Bowler Wildcat): «It was a beautiful stage again. I love the route drawn by René Metge. It is very beautiful with a lot of navigation. I don’t even feel my age! Everything is in the head and I think that I will be there when I will be 85 years old!”

TRUCKS

Michel Salvatore (Fra/Mercedes Unimog): « We enjoy this rally a lot. Even more since we are in Mauritania, our truck, a little bit lighter, is really good in the dunes. That’s why we are second today in the truck category.”