Jan 12, 2018
The ninth stage of the Africa Eco Race was, against expectations, not the day that made the big differences. The time the fastest cars needed for the 340 kilometres special stage in Mauritania barely escaped the time Gerard de Rooy needed. In fact, De Rooy won only 22 seconds on standings leader Mathieu Serradori. Vladimir Vasilyev won the race, with a 17 minutes advantage to the Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco.
“It was less difficult than they had said”, judged Gerard de Rooy at the finish line at Amodjar. “To be honest, I found the dunes in the previous stage more difficult than this one. Which does not mean that it wasn’t a beautiful special, with lots of sand and paths between the trees. Very nice to drive. The navigation was a bit trickier.”
In the first part of the stage, De Rooy made a small mistake, which cost him a quarter of an hour, and allowing Vasilyev to pass him with the Mini. “My own fault”, De Rooy admitted. “I was a little bit off the route, but heading straight to the waypoint. On the last dune before the waypoint, I killed the car and we were stuck. Darek managed to drive the truck back out again.”
The dunes in the ninth stage were numerous, but not very difficult and not very high. “They were very soft, with sharp edges. Those who did not dare were allowed to skip the highest dunes. They will get a time penalty for that. Those who did took the highest dunes will receive a half hour bonus time. Which we get also, but that will not matter much, because obviously all riders in the top of the rankings have crossed them.”
At the top of the rankings not much changed. Serradori retains the lead, followed by Vasilyev at 48 minutes. Number 3, Pascal Thomasse, is at 2.37.03. De Rooy is an hour and 17 minutes behind the Frenchman.
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