Africa Race : Leg 8 - 608 km
For the 10th stage of the Africa Race, a 100% sandy and off-piste spéciale linking Bou Lanouar to Azougui, small mauritanian villages separed by an ocean of dunes, awaited the competitors. Such a day should remain in the memories of the competitors
given the difficulties caused by the Adrar's trap.
After a very warm welcome of the mauritanian customs officers and a break in the bivouac of Bou Lanouar, the competitors of the Africa Race started a relatively calm new stage even though it was announced to be delicate. Indeed, the forerunners covered it two days ago and had no problems.
Unfortunately, as it is often the case in Africa, the ground had changed and the comfortable sand of the beginning of the week became very slack to such an extent that the 7 bikes, the 9 cars and the 4 trucks still racing were trapped in the Adrar region after CP2.
Jean Louis Schlesser was the first to get out of this situation. Leaving the cockpit of his Powerade Buggy, the winner of the stage commented : “I've never had to race such a stage in Africa. The sand was very slack and I thought that I was going to be blocked more than 20 times but it occured only once. It was very hard today and I think that many competitors will finish very late. Since the first day, this first Africa Race is extremely difficult but for the moment I think that the level has been overestimated.”
Finishing 1h47 after José Manuel Pellicer, Arnaud Jacquart agreed with this opinion: ”I thought I had seen it all during the Transorientale but I have to confess that this mauritanian stage is definitely the hardest one I had to race.
My bike had never suffered as much before.”
Nevertheless, every competitors had joined the bivouac at 10.00pm where the mauritanian tourism minister was waiting for the heroes of this stage. Thanks to this new victory, the BMW rider José Manuel Pellicer confirms his leadership with more than 4 hours over the Arnaud Jacquart's KTM. Thomas Schattat finished third of the stage and occupies the same rank in the overall classification.
Jean Louis Schlesser still leads the car overall ranking but the struggle rages behind him between Artem Varentsov and Abdelhamid Abouyoussef who escaped the trap of the dunes 40 minutes before the Russian. Only 1'26'' separes both drivers. In the truck category, Miklos Kovacs won behind the wheel of his Scania in spite of clutch problems but helped by Giacomo Vismara and his agile Unimog. Despite this new victory, the Hungarian driver is still third, dominated by both De Rooy Team's trucks. Hans Bekx is back to the first place 2'08'' ahead of Jan De Rooy.
Given this particular stage, tomorrow's stage will be neutralized and will consist in a free liaison towards Moudjeria. In spite of the 1000 km which have to be covered, this will allow some competitors to do some mechanics and to recover one's forces.