|Africa Eco Race: Enduro style racing over 400km.|
One of the toughest stages in the Africa Eco Race so far, the pistes and mountains of the Oued Draa proved to be a challenge for the competitors. Norbert Dubois wins after an enduro style battle with his opponents – but only over 390 kilometers of special – arriving with three bikes at the finish, at the same time.
'The old guys are still here,' he says smiling, 'This race is not up for grabs, as you can see today.' Norbert has won previous editions but missed the victory last year when he ran out of fuel in the Mauritanian dunes. The competition this year is fierce with Michael Pisano well in the lead, but several promising riders kept a pace that was too high and had to leave the race in the early days.
Martin Fontyn, last years' winner suffered from a crash in the 3rd stage and had to give up yesterday after 500 meter in the stage. This leaves room for newcomer and neighbour of Martin Fontyn, Joris van Dyck who has showed regular results from day one and now moves up in the ranking.
In the car category the highest speeds are seen amoung the French buggies, with the famous Blue buggy of Jean Louis Schlesser showing speeds in excess of 200km/h in the valleys and on the lakebeds of Southern Morocco. Today the stage was won by the team of Turon Barrere with their CRD buggy.
Jacky Loomans in the Overdrive Hilux proves to be a very fast and carefull rider: his experience helps him on the long stages and the well trained servicecrew has little work on the car. Currently he is 27 minutes behind Jean Louis Schlesser in the overall ranking and he is looking forward to the dunes in Mauritania. 'In the dunes, 27 minutes is nothing,' he says. 'On those stages we can win or lose a lot of time easily.'
Noel Essers with MAN was very fast in todays stage but sufferend a puncture which cost him a lot of time. 'We were close to the finish so we used the tire pressure system to keep the tire inflated, but we had to slow down considerable for this and of course we could see our competitors flying by.' Noel is a truckdriver in different league, still fast at 70 years old. 'We are here to support both Jacky and Gregoor Bouwens, but this doesn't mean that we cannot have a bit of fun ourselves.'
Todays winner was the Hungarian team of Kovacs who races his famous yellow Scania and celebrated the victory with a small party in the bivouac last night. Tomas Tomecek was 2'29m. behind him, followed by Essers at 2'52 behind the winner.
Saturday the Africa Eco Race will have a short special moving towards Dakhla. After the restday the competition will continue in Mauritania.
2014/01/04 | 12:29 CET | ARTICLE: MR/NH/AER