Africa Race : Leg 10 - 539 km
Since Wednesday day of the stage between Bou Lanouar and Azougui, the competitors are aware of the difficulties of the mauritanian ground and its sandy and slack sectors. So when they left the bivouac this morning, most of them knew that today's
stage would offer some hard times. It was the case and except Jean Louis Schlesser and the riders José Manuel Pellicer and Arnaud Jacquart, every competitors strove during the first kilometres. As a result, surprises and changes have happened in the classifications two days before the finish of the Africa Race in Dakar.
The man who drew the route and made the road-book José Maria Servia was at the finish line in the bivouac of Idini, 70 km far from Nouakchott. While he was leaving his Powerade Buggy, Jean Louis Schlesser saw his former team-mate and dashed towards him: " Once again, you haven't been cool with today's stage! The first eight kilometres were very difficult and then we've been racing for more than 100 km in camel weed. A crazy speciale! I've been stopped between two small dunes and we've been struggling for half an hour to get out of there. It was really complicated!"
A euphemism since the second car which crossed the line after Jean Louis Schlesser was Artem Varentsov's Toyota more than three hours later. He has kept the second rank of the overall ranking however inserted between Schlesser and Abdelhamid Abouyoussef who has lost precious time due to clutch problems.
Even towed by the hungarian driver Miklos Kovacs's truck to get out of the dunes, the Egyptian crossed the line out of time and got a penalty relegating him two hours and a half behind the second of the overall ranking. Four other cars, Jan De Rooy's trucks, Hans Bekx and Giacomo Vismara also got the problem.
The monsters of the desert but Miklos Kovacs have been trapped in the erg leading to CP1. The Hungarian quickly found his way and finished the speciale one hour before the others. The Scania now leads the overall ranking 1h17' over Hans Bekx's Daf and 1h19' over the Jan De Rooy's Iveco. Unless a huge problem, Miklos Kovacs is likely to become the first man to win a rallye raid behind the wheel of a Scania.
After a new brilliant victory at the handlebars of his BMW, José Manuel Pellicer is now competing to win this very first Africa Race. Indeed, the Spaniard has now a five hour advantage over Arnaud Jacquart's KTM. Thomas Schattat and his Yamaha are still on the third raw and in spite of the difficulties of the day, he has kept the two hour advantage separating him from senegalese rider Jean Hugues Moneyron. The Italian Michele Gallizia and Carlo Alberto Migliazza had rather take the road and prefered being sanctioned to keep their chance to join Dakar. To finish, Olivier Le Coq, the rider from Ivory Coast, got lost in the mauritanian desert due to a major navigation mistake but he was picked up by an organization vehicle.
Sunday, after a short speciale of 118 km, the rallye caravan will arrive in Senegal and will stop in Saint Louis before heading towards the Lac Rose to put an end to the very first Africa Race.