Africa Race : Leg 4 - 797 km
A sunny day and 25°C. These were the weather conditions in South Morocco for Friday's Africa Race's stage. After cold temperatures and rain for the first days, the competitors were glad of the change, starting by the bike rider José Manuel Pellicer
and the car racer Andrey IVANOV who both won today's stage for the second time.
This Forth Africa Race's stage, a circle around Fort Boujerif, has been reduced nearly by half due to recent strong rains causing impracticable tracks. “Thankfully!” said Jean Louis Schlesser just stepping out of his Powerade buggy on the finish line.
The multiple winner of Rally Raid World Cup wasn't the only one thinking that. In fact, the Special was really heavy in navigation and contained particularly technical pathways. Indeed, Andrey Ivanov, today's car winner, took around 4 hours to complete the 260 KM of the sector special. It's a weak average, but it wasn't enough to deprive the breezy Russian of his common good humor. While stepping out of his Nissan Pathfinder, he was smiling : “We drove the whole day together with Jean Louis Schlesser. It was a pleasure to be around such a champion. I learn more and more every day, I'm really enjoying it. Today's special was really difficult. Actually I need a nice massage to put me back on feet.
By winning this stage 5'06” ahead Schlesser, and for the second time since the Africa Race began, the Russian is now only 3 minutes away on the overall classification. He really is the serious challenger of Schlesser on this race. Just behind, Artel Verentsov confirmed his yesterday's third position and reinforced it on the overall average being 48 minutes behind the first car.
The Russian is keeping his position in front of the Egyptian Abdelhamid Abouyoussef who continues to economise his buggy Toyota.
In motorbikes, Arnaud Jacquart was pretty furious when he arrived at the finish lane. The reason? He tried to follow precisely the road book. And he was right as he conceded more than an hour on José Manuel Pellicer's BMW, winner of this 4th special with an approximately navigation.
Behind them, once more, the two Italian pilots Suzuki distinguished themselves. Indeed, Carlos Alberto Migliazza and Michele Gallizia navigated really well and outstripped Thomas Schattat and Jean Hugues Moneyron this time reaching the arrival without Thibault Chatelier, totally lost about 5km away from the bivouac.
At the overall classification, the german Schattat still leads the race's “third place”, in front of the Senegalese Moneyron.
In the trucks category, the suspense is all around as the 4 competitors arrived in a 15 minute's gap. Finally, Jan De Rooy driving is Iveco regain the victory ahead Miklos Kovacs and his Scania, Hans Bekx on DAF, and Giacomo Visamara on Unimog.
Tonight, the competitors will benefit again of the nice and comfortable bivouac of Fort Bou Jerif perfectly conceived to receive the Africa Race caravan.
In fact, bikers and 4x4 drivers frequently come over this Fort to enjoy this high touristic place of the south Moroccan.
Saturday, the Africa Race caravan heads north to Agadir for the last stage before the rest day.