The Rose Lake …. At last !

The reward for all the hard work since December 28th, and the final deliverance on the beach, before reaching the mythical Rose Lake !  That is what the competitors of this second edition of the Africa Eco Race enjoyed today.

A great moment, and time to enjoy themselves… the 14 km on the beach did not count towards the overall final classification, but they allowed the competitors to show what they could do on one of rally raids' most famous locations.  Sun, sea and sand… everything was in place for a fine celebration… which it definitely was !

A fine finish in presence of many Senegalese officials and spectators, friends, family members of those taking part, in the great tradition of a real marathon !

 

This final stage was the opportunity to reward the winners of the three categories taking part.  In the car class, Jean-Louis Schlesser added a second win on the Africa Eco Race to his career record.  After 11 magnificent stages, the 'Desert Fox' was delighted to have discovered a route with a thousand and one different facets : "Réné's route was of a high quality… no comments ! He really has the talent to draw up magnificent special stages, and once again, he was able to call our bluff.  We have lived through stages of pure delight, both in terms of driving and navigation. More than ever this victory is that of a team, and François (Lethier) drove perfectly.  I would like to emphasise that our welcome in Mauritania was exceptional.  The Mauritanian authorities were perfect and the visit from the Minister of the Interior showed the interest this country has in the event.  With more competitors taking part next year… it will be even better ! Team Schlesser will take part in two or three events this season before preparing for the Africa Eco Race 2011 !"

After a magnificent race, despite nearly coming to an abrupt end on the third stage (after losing a piston), Jérôme Pelichet finished in a brilliant second place, having managed his race to perfection : " This second place is extraordinary for us.  Our initial aim was to get on the podium, but we never really expected this, and especially, we were not expecting such a rally !  What joy, both for me and for Eugénie, who worked really well, as in this event, the co-driver really has plenty to do.  This was her first time at the Rose Lake, and we are both so happy.  During 12 days, we have seen so much ! " For his second participation in the Africa Eco Race, François Lethier with a Schlesser Buggy, finished on the third step of the podium : "Magical… this race was magical !  It was impossible to guess what we would see next.  Every day was enchanted.  We had a really good race, and lived some intense emotions… thank you, René ! "

Just off the podium, " Mido " (Ablehamid Abouyoussef), who was also here in 2009, also enjoyed this adventure.  Driving a Desert Warrior, the Egyptian driver has no regrets : " It was a beautiful race, with a great atmosphere.  The driving, the navigation, the scenery… everything was there !  This rally really put forward the joint work between the driver and co-driver. We are really pleased with this fourth-place finish, as our initial aim was to finish in the top ten.  I had not driven a four-wheel drive for a long time, and finally, after some minor changes, everything went perfectly…"  

Just behind the Egyptian tandem, Jacky Loomans finished 5th.  After a brilliant start to this race, the Belgian had clutch problems which prevented him from finishing on the podium : "I think I did more dunes on this rally than on all the Dakars in which I have taken part !  Over 150 km of dunes per day, including some really soft sand… it's the kind of terrain I love, and I had my fill !  Even if we had problems which lost us a lot of time overall, the only thing I will remember… is that Africa is still Africa !"


Congratulations to all those who reached the finish line :  Edmond Pelichet, Gilles Florin, Miroslav Kubicek… to all those who had problems, who went through some difficult moments but still managed to get to the end of the adventure … Momo Asloun, Vincent Demonceaux (who had got off to a brilliant start), Rudy Goeminne, Juan Aibar, Jean-Jacques Jousseau, Stéphane Corso (who rolled at the start of the race but still reached Dakar), Karim El Zanaty, and all the others.


On two wheels, Marco Capodacqua won the event having suffered some days, but always remaining positive : " It was a difficult rally, and very demanding.  Sometimes, I will admit I had problems, but I have reached the end. The dunes were quite terrible, and I had to outdo myself, but overall, I am so pleased to be there, with my friends. " Alberto Dottori was second behind Marco, having also had some serious problems some days…  


Finally, among the trucks, after the retirement of Elisabete Jacinto, who had been very competitive at the start of the race, the Hungarian colossus Miklos Kovacs had a clear path towards victory : " I really enjoyed this race, except perhaps when I got stuck for 90 minutes in the dunes.. But it was really very beautiful and very technical. I won't forget this race, or my victory. Thank you, Africa ! "


So yes, 'Thank you, Africa !' - and see you again next year in January 2011 for another great adventure…