|Africa Eco Race: Rocking the rankings in the dunes.|
René Metge, racedirector of the Africa Eco Race during the briefing insisted on taking the right cap during the whole day, and when René insists on something the competitors usually listen very carefully or pay during the stage. 'Those who did not listen to my advice are still in the dunes,' René said smiling during last nights' briefing.
'I had announced this to be a harsh stage and I insisted on finding the correct cap. In the end it turned out to be different from what I had expected. What I thought would be very difficult turned out to be easy and what I though would be easy was difficult for the teams. The biggest issue was after CP 3, where the competitors had to follow an 11 degree cap to stay out of a very difficult dunefield. Some didn't and when I noticed this I put the helicopter there to guide them. Some managed to get back on the right track, others damaged their clutch and stayed stuck during a long moment and only found their way back onto the stage after a long time.' Even at 20:00h local time 14 cars/tracks and 4 bikes were still not in the bivouac.
Jean Antoine Sabatier was one of the team who could take advantage of the situation, winning his forth stage in the Africa Eco Race 2014. Stephane Henrard was close behind him with the DuneBee who managed to finish second in this tough stage. 'Jean Louis Schlesser inspired us to attack this time, as we saw him getting stuck in the dunes and we managed to overtake him. Today finally we had no mechanical problems but I was too carefull at the end of the stage so Sabatier could catch up with us.'
Jacky Loomans finish 3rd today, even while helping Yves Fromont who was stuck with his VW Tarek. 'We have won 10 minutes on Jean Louis Schlesser, who is still ahead of us. Our second position is still strong and we want to continue like this in the next days.'
Like last year Jean Louis Schlesser had problems with his hydraulic lift system, which got stuck in the lowest position, with the vehicle lifted. At the finish he wasn't happy at all, seeing so many competitors in front of him.
Today the buggies and trucks had a strong battle, with Miklos Kovacs driving the fastest stage of his career in the Africa Eco Race and winning ahead of Tomas Tomecek and the other teams. Either lightweight with a lot of power, or larger than life with huge engines: the battle amoung the trucks was inspiring all day long.
One thing is sure, the Africa Eco Race reveals more and more talents like the Austrian Robert Theuretzbacher his 3rd stage, but also Gwen Backx 2nd at 7’17 and Joris van Dyck, 3rd at 12’57, both from Belgium. Behind this trio, Harite Gabari who was injured on the 3rd stage finishes 4th at 14’14 right in front of Michael Pisano at 20’25. Dominique Robin gets 13 minutes back of his Corsican rival and Nobert Dubois loses all chances to be on the podium ending at 2h18’08 from the first bikes of the day. In the general rankings Pisano stays 1st, 42’27 in front of Robin and 1h11’50 on Joris van Dyck.
The 9th stage of 309km of which 289km of special between Akjoujt and Toueila will be the last episode of the Mauritanian sand battles, rocking the rankings of the Africa Eco Race 2014!
2014/01/09 | 09:42 CET | ARTICLE: MR/NH/AER