|Africa Eco Race: Belgian riders reach for the podium.|
'Today in the dunes the first bikes stayed together,' says Gwen Backx, the number two in SS8 in the Africa Eco Race, 'I chose my own path and managed to get through the dunes as one of the first motobikes. After the dunes my teammate Joris van Dyck caught up and we raced to the finish catching place 2 and 3!'
Gwen Backx and Joris van Dyck are the ASAP Racing Team in the Africa Eco Race and caught attantion with very stable and solid results, day after day. They kept finishing around the fifth place, right behind the fastest riders in the competition.
'We built two rallybikes using the KTM 500 EXC endurobike and a MECA Rallykit. The bikes are lightweight, but not too fast nor strong compared to the Rallyreplicas. We could not win anything in Morocco against these big machines and simply tried to stay close behind the leaders in the race. This strategy was succesfull and in the dunes the advantage of our lightweight machines is quite clear!'
The duo from the Antwerp region produced strong results in the 8th stage of the Africa Eco Race, traditionally the toughest stage in the event. 'Early in the day the roadbook was very complex, difficult to find the right track,' says Gwen, 'So I kept my focus on the roadbook and finding the right way. After CP2 we could refill the bikes and I had some good food. I was ready to attack and as we went into the dunes I could move forward.'
'Dunes in Mauritania are 2 to 3 meters high, sometimes 5 to 6 meters but not much more. The difficulty is not the hight but the sand. Here the sand it so soft, you simply disappear into a cloud of fine sand and dust. Gwen got stuck 7 times in the dunes this stage, showing the difficulty even for fast riders. 'One time I got stuck so bad that I will dream about it,' he said, 'I had to dig up my bike, it almost was gone.'
Joris had little problems in the sand but left the dunes after Gwen. 'Soon I saw Gwen standing, cleaning his face and eyes from the sand. We raced together to the finish of the stage, roughly 50-60 kilometers down a sandy piste. We noticed the tracks in front of us had disappeared and finishing together is a special moment!'
At the start of todays stage Joris van Dyck was ten seconds behind Norbert Dubois, former winner of the Africa Eco Race. After this stage Norbert is out, Joris and Gwen rank 3rd and 4th. 'Now that we have reached this position we want to stay here. We had to fight to get here and we want to be on the finishpodium next to Lac Rose in Dakar!'
2014/01/09 | 12:42 CET | MR/NH/AER