|Africa Eco Race: Schlesser, Polli and Tomecek - all at the Lac Rosé Dakar.|
There was a festive atmosphere at the Lac Rose on Sunday, January 8, 2012 as Dakar, the capital of Senegal welcomed the arrival of the Sonangol Africa Eco Race and applauded the winners of this fourth edition.
Jean-Louis Schlesser and Cyril Esquirol took a fourth straight title in the Sonagol Schlesser Buggy, Tomas Tomecek and Vojtech Moravek won for the second time in the truck class and Oscar Polli took the honours in the bike category.
After a last night spent in tents under the centuries-old baobab trees in Kebemer, a village about 200 km north of Dakar, the survivors of Sonangol Africa Eco Race drove to the Atlantic Ocean to to start the final stage of 24 km. It wasn't a timed section, so it was more of a parade for the 11 motorcycles, 32 cars and 4 trucks still in the race.
At 13.30 Oscar Polli, 450 cc World Champion in Cross Country Rally in 2008, set the wheels of his KTM 690 on the podium at the Pink Lake, between two other bikes, those of Norbert Dubois on the second KTM 690 and Xavier Moreau on a KTM 450. The Italian was very pleased with his victory and sprayed René Metge, the race director, with Champagne.
After all the bikes had had their time on the podium it was the turn of the cars and first up was Jean Louis Schlesser in his superb Sonangol Schlesser Buggy.
Along with his co-driver, triple World Enduro Champion Cyril Esquirol, the now four-time winner of the event posed for photos with officials, representatives of the title sponsor Sonangol, and members of his Schlesser Adventure Team.
Then it was the Tatra truck of Tomas Tomecek and Vojtech Moravek before all the others who have survived the Moroccan tracks and dunes of Mauritania, as well as the Raid class who followed the main route without the pressure of the clock.
At the end of the podium ceremony many competitors and VIPs had lunch on the shores of the Lac Rose before heading off into the city of Dakar where the awards will be handed out.
Rene Metge, Race Director had a few words to say. "From St. Cyprian to Dakar the Sonangol Africa Eco Race is all well, although we have not been spared the weather... with the cold in Morocco and a sandstorm in Mauritania that made the course much more complicated than expected.
The competitors have had a really rough time but they have shown great spirit and great determination. The organisers had to cancel a Special Stage but we handled any difficult situations well. Apart from a broken collarbone in a motorcycle, there were no other accidents on the event and that is a great satisfaction.
With our regulations that allow competitors to continue even if they didn't finish a special, we see many happy and smiling faces today. A final word on the general atmosphere of the event which was excellent with a real bond between the organizers and the competitors."
2012/01/09 | 14:08 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/AER