Africa Race : Leg 7 - 182 km
This 7th stage of the Africa Race between Laâyoune (southern Morocco) and Bou Lanouar (Mauritania) was not only the longest one in terms of distance but also the shortest one as far as the the length of the Spéciale is concerned: a selective
sector followed by a 700 km liaison to pass the border between Morocco and Mauritania. This long way has led the competitors to the expected sandy stages.
Considered as a kind of rehearsal, the day's stage offered its first dune clearings and its lot of navigation. Once again, José Manuel Pellicer appeared to be untouchable finishing more than 30 minutes before his rivals despite a slight fall while he was looking for his way. Behind the Spaniard, Arnaud Jacquart seemed to have capitulated since he had decided to act as premium cameraman taking onboard a camera to shoot his fellow-rallymen. It sounded as a great idea in terms of images but also in terms of sports since the KTM rider made the trace for Jean-Hugues Moneyron who finished second and took the third place of the overall ranking, 9 minutes before Thomas Schattat who got lost after CP2.
On four wheels, a slow tyre puncture delayed Jean Louis Schlesser. The Powerade Buggy driver had decided not to stop on the track but after the finish line to repair. As a result, the Africa Race leader finished 2 minutes behind the Jan De Rooy's truck.
Behind the wheel of his astonishing Iveco of 900 hp, the Dutchman declared having done the perfect Spéciale in spite of a delicate navigation: ”Twenty years after my first scratch victory in the Ténéré, I win this stage preceding Jean Louis Schlesser. Moreover, it was time for me to finish before my team mate Hans Bekx, it's always better when the boss finishes ahead!”
Hans Beck's DAF is also preceded by Miklos Kovacs's Scania. The Dutchman has conceded more than twenty minutes and has also lost the first place of the overall ranking.
In the car category, Jean Louis Schlesser remains more than ever the leader of the race thanks to this new stage victory. Behind him, the struggle rages between the Abdelhamid Abouyoussef's Toyota Buggy and the Artem Varentsov's Toyota Land Cruiser. For the second time in a row, the Egyptian was better than the russian driver and is likely to take the second rank of the overall ranking if a penalty in suspense due to a navigation error on the behalf of Varentsov is confirmed by the car marshalls' college.
Tonight will be the first night that the Africa Race caravan will spend in Mauritania along the famous railroad connecting the port city Nouadhibou to Zouerate before heading towards Atar after a 100% sandy stage.