AFRICA ECO RACE 2020 – STAGE 8
A MOST INTENSE MAURITANIAN DAY ON THE AFRICA ECO RACE
The management of the AFRICA ECO RACE ® announced last night at the Aidzidine briefing, this 8th stage would be one of the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult of this 12th edition. They were right because at 19:00 Mauritanian time, only about thirty motorcycles and about fifteen cars, trucks and SSV had returned to the bivouac. Knowing that the first bikes had started at 7:30 this morning and that the special was 429 km long, it is easy to imagine the difficulty of the course consisting of sandy tracks, wadis and dunes cords, all in the heart of breathtaking scenery. In fact, a true African step in the pure tradition of AFRICA ECO RACE.
You had to see the smile of Lyndon POSKITT on arrival planted 5 km from Tidjikja, a town located east of an area considered to be the most beautiful in the country. Indeed, the Brit had just won what he described as the most beautiful and hardest stage of his career as an Off-Road Rally driver. In total, more than 8 hours of motorbike on terrains comprising all the difficulties encountered in the discipline and therefore, a superb performance for the pilot of KTM N ° 100.
The English adventurer wins at 00:02:15 in front of the amazing Italian Giovanni GRITTI on HONDA. In 3rd position, we find Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER who tried everything to escape today. It almost worked since the Norwegian was 15 minutes ahead of Alessandro BOTTURI at the refueling. check, the KTM driver then gardened and was joined by his little friends with whom he rode until the finish. Among them was BOTTURI who, suddenly, placed his YAMAHA in 4th position at 00:02:01 am of ULLEVALSETER, on which he still had 00:02:05 ahead of the general.
Suffice to say that nothing has yet been decided between the two men. Poor operation, however, for Italian Paolo LUCCI who, finishing 5th at 00:13:58 of POSKITT, lost his provisional 3rd place. The Australian Matt SUTHERLAND was very marked at the finish but he quickly found a smile when the marshals announced that he was the 6th biker to cross the line. As always, tough Martin BENKO of Slovakia proved to be efficient by finishing 7th at just over 30 minutes. He is ahead of the American Michael JONHSON, the author of a real performance and the astonishing Mexican Juan Pablo GUILLEN, 1st of motorcycles over 450 cc, as friendly as he is efficient on a motorcycle.
Pawel STASIACZEK from Poland completes the top 10. In the MOTUL XTREME RIDER category, the Swede Anders BERGLUND finishes 15th and is now well placed at the head of the motorcycle trunk driver category since he is 10th in the provisional general.
On four wheels, the special was even longer than on a motorcycle since the best time was 08:19:17. The author of this time is an extraordinary winner since he is Geoffroy NOEL DE BURLIN. The word extraordinary is not too strong for several reasons. First of all, this 40-year-old Belgian driver is driving a “small” POLARIS SSV. Then he rides solo, that is to say without a co-pilot. Finally, he is paraplegic. The feat is all the more so given that it was a particularly difficult special from which a good number of able-bodied and crewed people will only come out at night.
Behind this extra-terrestrial, we find at 00:01:04, another SSV namely the CAN AM X3 of Loïc FREBOURG and Franck BOULAY, out in the lead but penalized by 12 minutes for a sports problem in the refueling. In 3rd position, we find Patrick and Lucas MARTIN on their Tarek MERCEDES. The French finish at 00:04:06 and they take the opportunity to take the lead of the provisional general Auto – Truck – SSV.
It must be said that the trucks, which have animated the top of the table since the start of the race, suffered today. Indeed, the Belgian Igor BOUWENS, Ulrich BOERBOOM and Frits DRIESMANS, leaders of the general classification with their IVECO, were victims of a crash from which they took more than 2 hours to come out. Same hassle for the MERCEDES of the Dutch Johan ELFRINK and Dirk SCHUTTEL arrived at almost two hours. Finally, the Belgian Noël ESSERS, Marc LAUWERS and Tijs VRANKEN put their MAN on the blank. However, they managed to finish the stage after being put back on their wheels by an organization’s brush truck.
As for Miklos KOVACS, Lazlo ACS and Peter CZEGLEDI, they also “tanked” their SCANIA against a huge rock. The Hungarians were lucky, however, to be quickly exited by the other SCANIA of their compatriots Karoly FAZEKAS, Albert HORN and Peter CSAKANY, who signed in passing the 4th time of the day, in front of the SSV CAN AM solo of the Dutchman Sander DERIKX. Among the other heroes of this special, the French Patrice ETIENNE and Jean-Pierre SAINT MARTIN rank 6th ahead of their teammates Benoit FRETIN and Cédric DUPLÉ, still leader in the SSV XTREM category
The Czech, solo on his TATRA truck, wins the 8th time of the special and he is now in 4th position in the classification of desert juggernauts behind KOVACS, BOUWENS and FAZEKAS.
Tomorrow, Thursday, January 16, the assistance and the organization will remain at the bivouac installed about ten kilometers from Tidjikja since the stage is a 415 km loop. It will probably be the most beautiful stage of the AFRICA ECO RACE ® 2020 at eye level but not necessarily easy for machines and men.