Jan 14, 2020
LEG 6: DAHKLA – CHAMI: 559.93km
Liaison: Dakhla – Guerguerat: 383.36km
Special: PK55 – Chami: 176.157km
SUTHERLAND AND MARTIN WIN FIRST MAURITANIAN STAGE AT AFRICA ECO RACE
CHAMI (MAURITANIA): Aussie rider Matt Sutherland and French driver Patrick Martin won their respective motorcycle and car categories on the sixth stage of the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) between Arzmeila and Chami on the road to Nouakchott in Western Mauritania on Monday.
Sutherland headed out from a very early start to the day in eighth overall and retained that position with the fastest time, the KTM rider finishing the short special 1min 16sec in front of Giovanni Gritti’s Honda to become the first Australian to win a special stage at the Africa Eco Race. Paulo Lucci reached the stage finish in third, but fellow Italian Alessandro Botturi maintained the overall lead over Norwegian Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter, despite seeing his advantage trimmed to 2min 05sec with the 20th fastest time.
Great Britain’s Lyndon Poskitt stayed in third overall, Polish veteran Jacek Czachor was fourth, while Lucci and Polish rookie Konrad Dabrowski rounded off the top six in the general standings.
Sweden’s Anders Berglund won the stage in the over-450cc section and extended his advantage over closest rival Ashish Raorane to nearly 30 minutes. Italy’s Gabriel Minelli and Senegal’s Mamadou Bocoum are third and fourth.
Patrick and Lucas Martin topped the car times in their T1 Tarek Mercedes, the French crew beating the Belgian Iveco trio of Igor Bouwens, Ulrich Boerboom and Frits Driesmans by 2min 29sec to reduce the truck team’s outright lead in the car and truck section to 6min 33sec.
The day’s route crossed the border into Mauritania. After a liaison of 383.36km that included the customs formalities between Dakhla and Arzmeila, the special – used only once before on the event – ran for 176.57km to finish at the bivouac in Chami. The route ran alongside the Banc d’Arguin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, that offered tricky dunes and demanding navigation.
It was a disapponting day for Yves and Jean Fromont in their Tarek Buggy, the French duo losing their place in the overall top 10 after leaving the stage with mechanical problems at a passage control. The Hungarian crew of Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi came home second in T4 and maintained third overall, well over two hours ahead of the fourth-placed T4 MAN of Noel Essers, Marc Lauwers and Tijs Vranken. That was despite suffering engine shutdown issues.
Bernard Touzery and Frédéric Ganache ran well in an Optimus Buggy to claim the sixth quickest time and second in T1 and Alexandre and Eric Coquide were sixth on the day in a Nissan. Jacky Leichleiter and Francis Lapp finished seventh in their brand new Mercedes Buggy running in the colours of Sunreef Yachts.
Benoit Fretin and Cédric Duplé dropped over 20 minutes to the stage winners but maintained their advantage in the SSV section and seventh in the general rankings in a Can-Am. Loic Frebourg, Patrice Etienne and solo racer Geoffroy Noel de Burlin round off the top four amongst the SSVs, but Dutchman Sander Derikx is driving solo and claimed the stage win in his Can-Am.
Eighth-placed Alexey Titov and Dmitry Pavlov extended their advantage in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles over fellow Russians, Andrey Sushentshov and Igor Petenko.
The Bowler duo of Alex Cole and Emma Osman won the Open class special and moved in front of fellow Brits Andrew Wicklow and Simon Armstrong after their rivals incurred a 30-minute time penalty.
Tomorrow (Tuesday January 14th), the Africa Eco Race caravan heads from the Chami bivouac to Aidzidine, a village located betweern Akjoujt and Atar. The off-piste stage runs for 477.95km and makes up the entire route of the day with camel grass, treacherous dune crossings and tricky navigation.
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