Arrival in Africa !

Before the competitors in the Africa Eco Race even disembarked in Nador, they were able to appreciate the Maroccan sunshine, with real summer conditions !  This first ‘short special stage’ allowed those taking part to get a first idea of the difficulties they are likely to face, to appreciate the philosophy of the road book and of the navigation, ‘René Metge style’ !

Even if it is important to take care on a first special stage, there was no question of not enjoying the driving or navigating, whilst becoming immersed in Africa.

The first thirteen kilometres were rocky, very narrow, very winding, in particular for the trucks in the mountain section, but the rest of the route was a delight for the navigators … as long as they kept a close eye on their bearings, to avoid getting lost !

 

The track game !

In the car category, François Lethier and Jean-Marie Lurquin set the fastest time in a Schlesser Buggy. A good start to the event for the Franco-Belgian duo, who also had excellent results on the last edition of the Shamrock. A few seconds behind them was Jérôme Pelichet with his Wildcat Bowler, the winner of the 2009 Rally of the Pharoahs, second ahead of the Nissan Navara of Jacky Loomans. Jean-Louis Schlesser, who was 5 minutes behind, commented that he had really enjoyed himself on this route.  The general opinion was that this first special stage was unanimously popular, especially among the navigators, who were able to spot René Metge’s mark on the road book.

On two wheels, Marco Capodacqua took the first laurels, getting the better of his two compatriots, Alberto Dottori and Giovanni Stefani.  With solidarity vital in those sectors with ‘subtle’ navigation, our three musketeers kept close together.

Among the trucks, Elisabete Jacinto dominated the class, placing her MAN ahead of Miklos Kovacs and Noel Essers.  The Portuguese driver took the lead in the overall classification by just over 40 seconds.

Tomorrow, between Borj Frissate and La Momie (not far from Rissani), the last day of 2009 will see a faster stage, but with just as much navigation… and plenty of work for the co-drivers !


Atmosphere…

François Lethier – Buggy Schlesser:

« A super day … a magnificent route, fantastic navigation, and the best time as well…  Don’t change a thing ! »

Jean-Marie Lurquin:

« I was able to spot ‘ Grand René’s influence…hard navigation but a real delight, proper work for the co-driver on a mixed route, with fast sections, slow sections, and very little dust.  A good day ! »

Jérôme Pelichet – Bowler Wildcat:

« The route was superb – navigation, driving, and everything over very varied terrain. »

Eugénie Decré:

« There was no time to watch the scenery… It was quite simply fantastic.  With notes like these, it is a real delight.. and we know why we have chosen to be here! »
Jacky Loomans – Nissan Navara
« A bit tight at the start… We took the lead at CP1, then we got a bit lost, but everything is going well ! »

Jean-Louis Schlesser – Buggy Schlesser

« Real pleasure on a very varied route.   Super ! »

Abdelahamid Abouyoussef – Desert Warrior
« A number of minor problems to sort out on the car, but today was paradise for co-drivers !!! »

Elisabete Jacinto  - MAN

« It was very hard work for the first 20 kilometres, which were narrow and difficult for the trucks, but the route was magnificent… no pebbles and no holes !»

Marco Capodacqua – KTM

« We rode together to keep our strength !  The navigation is not easy, especially when you are the front! »