The Caravan left Marseille Sunday
On this last Sunday of december, the Africa Race caravan left Marseille to reach the harbour of Sète and board on the "Mistral Express" heading for Morocco. The hundred vehicles and the three hundred competitors are to arrive on Tuesday
in the morning.
After the two-day scrutineerings taking place in the Collège Catholique des Pères de Timon-David below the Régis castle which was built during the 19th century by a family of merchants from Marseille who also owned trading posts in Africa, we finally have 24 race vehicles, 12 cars, 8 bikes, 4 trucks and 4 raid vehicles for more than 20 nationalities represented.
All these people and vehicles will race the first of the twelve stages of the Africa Race in Nador on Tuesday in the morning. This represents indeed a limited number of competitors but the current global financial crisis is the main reason that can justify such a case. For want of the necessary budget, various competitors who were about to participate in the event had to withdraw on the last minute.
But for those who will be on the starting line, the spectacle will be more than great along the 7490 Km route (4098 Km of Spéciales and 3401 Km of Liaisons) drawn in unique landscapes as only Africa owns. Moreover, the lovers of the discipline will for sure fully enjoy the difficulties they will be faced to.
Under a radiant sun, the atmosphere was really relaxed during the technical and administrative scrutineerings among the members of the organization as well as among the competitors. For instance, while the marshalls of the FIA and FIM sanctionned event were doing their job, we could see Jean Louis Schlesser joking with Jan De Rooy. The same feeling was visible on José Manuel Pellicer's face. The favourite Rally 450 BMW rider of the race seemed collected in front of the Fidelia medical staff which is again on duty in an african race. Fidelia is once again back in a rally-raid event with experienced and well trained doctors whose only goal is to bring the most efficient safety plan to all the participants of the Africa Race.
After a 36 hour cruise across the Mediterranean Sea marked by safety and navigation briefings, the competitors will have to dive in the race. At their arrival, they will have no time to breathe: a 691 Km stage (173 Km of Spéciales) between Nador and Boutnib is waiting for them.