Africa Race : Leg 5 - 626 km
Jean Louis Schlesser and José Manuel Pellicer outstrip the other competitors on this fifth Africa Race stage. They now have a comfortable lead in the overall classification before the rest day, tomorrow in Agadir.
The whole stage went
really well for the bike category: José Manuel Pellicer arrived first thanks to his BMW, 21'39” before Arnaud Jacquart's KTM while Thibault Chatelier is third, but still 1h52' behind the leader.
It's wasn't the same story for the cars though, with the first real mechanical problems appearing, changing the whole rally classification. Unfortunately, Andrey Ivanov's Nissan Pathfinder suffered a significant loss of oil pressure, on the road to the departure line that restrained him from making the Start of today's 296 KM Special.
He didn't want to risk a mechanical problem on the track. In fact, that would have prevented him from showing up at all the checking points and as a consequence risking disqualification. The Russian reached the finish line thanks to his assistance truck which tracked him on the road all the way so he could start the engine again for just a few minutes allowing him to pass the last checking control.
Ivanov is now 6th in the overall classification despite the 13 hours penalty he received. Jean Louis Schlesser's most serious challenger is no longer a threat anymore, so it's not surprising that he easily won this stage, and that he really enjoyed it : « I have been driving through Morocco for a very long time but I've never done this awesome first part of today's special.
The route included many rolling sections but also technical ones with quite a lot of navigation needed. That gave us a beautiful stage. I am disappointed to hear about Ivanov's trouble but he is still in the race and we will have the chance to fight again. The rest day is really good news as the first part of the Africa Race was particularly tough.»
Behind the Powerade buggy, Abdelhamid Abouyoussef driving his 4x4 Toyota buggy crossed the line with the second fastest time ahead of the Russian Artem Varentsov who continues to amaze everyone with his big Toyota Land Cruiser. On the overall classification, Varentsov is now achieved the second place in front of the Egyptian driver.
In the trucks category, the special was much tighter. Indeed, even if he had to deal with a deflated tyre, Hans Bekx and his DAF won the special in front of the Unimog of Giacomo Vismara by a single second !
As for Jan De Rooy‘s Iveco, he lost 3'45” today caused mainly by deciding to turn back to help out his compatriot. He now concedes more than 12' to Hans Bekx, which means nothing before the sandy stages of the south Moroccan and the Mauritanian dunes.