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Africa Eco Race: Two legends to start together - Magnaldi and Schlesser.








Once again, the "Sonangol Africa Eco Race" will have a very attractive competitor’s panel. To start with Jean Louis Schlesser, five times winner of the event: This year his navigator will be Thierry Magnaldi, like Schlesser also a Franch motorsport-legend which will seat on the right side of the car for the first time of his carreer in offroad rally.

"In all the interviews I did, I’ve never hidden the fact that I was missing Africa and its very selective tracks, incredible landscapes, its uncomparable atmosphere and that I was eager to get back on track over there. I was also seeking for a old school rally where adventure, resourcefulness, solidarity and friendliness are highlighted. For me the Sonangol Africa Eco Race is a condensate of all of that," Magnaldi said.

"When Jean Louis Schlesser asked me to participate to the race next to him, I have to admit I didn’t give an answer straight away to take some time for this decision. Finally the call of Africa and competition was too strong so I accepted. I’m very motivated even if it’s as a co-driver. I’m not a novice in this discipline, but I consider this opportunity as a new experience which will be unique because sharing the cockpit with him will for sure be instructive and enriching. And of course, being aboard the Schlesser Buggy is a five star experience."

"I’m also very happy to find Rene Metge’s methods and road books which I really appreciate. I’m also very eager, and I even don’t have any pressure, I can’t wait to see how I’ll sort out myself as a navigator. Especially Jean Louis is like me, he navigates as much as he drives. I think it will be a lot of fun!"

Even if this pair will obviously be favorite for victory, some serious opponents will be present like for instance Jacky Loomans of Belgium and his mighty Overdrive Toyota Hilux, Miroslav Zapletal from Czech Republic and his H3 Hummer which impressed in 2013, Balazs Szalay from Hungary with his Opel Mokka Prototype.

Not to forget also the troop of french buggies composed of Patrick Martin, Gilles Florin, Michel Turon-Barrere, Jean-Antoine Sabatier, without forgetting Jean-Noel Julien which wasn’t present last year, all taken over by Yves Fromont, which finished 2nd in the “Car” category. After his last year experience in the Classic category, Stéphane Henrard from Belgium will be back in the race with his Volkswagen Tarek Buggy.

In the trucks category, there should be a harsh battle between the Czech Tomas Tomecek on his Tatra Truck and Portguese Elisabete Jacinto on her MAN TGS. A battle which shall be refereed by Miklos Kovacs from Hungary on his stunning Scania, and the Belgians Noel Essers (MAN) and Gregoor Bouwens on a brand new IVECO.

The motorcycle category will also have a very nice look, Martin Fontyn from Belgium and winner last year on a KTM, and will have to fight to keep his title, in front of opponents like the Frenchmen Nobert Dubois (KTM), Willy Jobard (Zongshen hybrid), Dominique Robin (KTM) or even Michael Pisano (Honda) from Corsica. Concerning other nationalities, Guillaume Martens from Belgium which was very close from victory in 2013, will obviously be one of the favorites on motorcycle. Africa will be represented by Moroccan Harite Gabari (Yamaha) always very quick on two wheels, he will for sure disturb the rankings.

It's a tradition on African rallies and its even more present on the Sonangol Africa Eco Race, the participants take the opportunity to coordinate humanitarian projects throughout the crossed countries.

The 6th edition will not fail her task as around 10 operations will happen of which: The most important one will be coordinated by Austrian Team, Elite Racing. The trucks from the organization will carry solar panels for them and will have technicians installing the panels in a school of Nouakchott (Mauritania). Rally Queen Julia Schrenk will also be part of the operation.

There will of course also be the traditional operation coordinated by the doctors of the rally each year; they will deliver with the help of the organization, medicine and medical supplies, to dispensers which will cross the route of the Sonangol Africa Eco Race. Bikers will also participate like for example the Frenchman Christophe Conreau, which collected toys for African children. In the same team, Gilles Vanderweyen for Belgium collected money during his wedding in order to supports 4 children from “SOS Villages d’enfants”, of which 2 are in Senegal.

Gilles will give the money to the manager of this organization at his arrival at the “Lac Rose”. Still with bikers, André Lenoble will donate tee shirts from his organization “Mad53” and will participate to the race with a bike mounted with photovoltaic cells, in order to reduce pollution.

On the auto side, Jacques Brun and Daniel Mouchard will transport in his assistance truck, primary medical supplies and school supplies for the “Mission Catholique d'Atar”, retrieved by Père Jean Louis on the bivouac of Akjoujt. Very nice actions which delighted the organization of the race.

2013/12/18 | 12:00 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/AER











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