SS8; AFRICA ECO RACE (Monaco-Dakar) 2020
LEG 8: AIDZIDINE – TIDJIKJA: 450.83km
Special: Aidzidine – Tidjikja: 429.01km
Liaison: Tidjikja – bivouac: 18.77km
AFRICA ECO RACE REACHES MYTHICAL TIDJIKJA DEEP IN THE MAURITANIAN WILDERNESS
· Poskitt back in a podium place with bike stage win; Botturi’s lead trimmed to 2min 05sec
· Solo driver Geoffroy De Burlin wins car and truck stage; Patrick and Lucas Martin lead outright
TIDJIKJA (MAURITANIA): Great Britain’s Lyndon Poskitt did his chances of finishing on the podium at the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) no harm at all by claiming a second stage win on the demanding selective section between Aidzidine and Tidjikja in central Mauritania on Wednesday.
A time of 8hr 07min 56sec for the energy-sapping 429.01km special enabled the KTM rider to move back in front of Italy’s Paulo Lucci and close to within 30min 08sec of Italian leader Alessandro Botturi on what he described as one of the hardest and most beautiful stages of his career. The latter, riding a Yamaha, raced close with rival Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter after falling behind his rival before the refuelling point and saw his advantage pegged back to 2min 05sec, with Norwegian Ullesvalseter setting the third quickest time behind Italy’s Giovanni Gritti.
Lucci came in fifth and Australia’s Matt Sutherland delivered another top six finish to hold a similar position in the overall standings behind Slovakia’s Martin Benko.
But it was not a good stage for the Polish duo of Jacek Czachor and his young protégé Konrad Dabrowski. They were classified in fifth and sixth overall at the start of the day’s stage but lost time and slipped to eighth and 10th. As a result, fellow Pole Pawel Stasiaczek moved up to seventh and American Michael Johnson was ninth.
Mexico’s Juan-Pablo Guillen claimed the stage win in the over-450cc section, the KTM rider completing the monster stage in a little under nine hours and just under four minutes ahead of Italy’s Gabriel Minelli. Sweden’s Anders Berglund came home in third on his Husaberg to stay in control of the Motul Xtreme Rider, Malles Motos and over-450cc categories.
Rally officials had said the previous evening that the day’s stage would be one of the most intense and beautiful in the history of the Africa Eco Race. The day’s action included two motorcycle refuelling points, sandy tracks until competitors reached the Tifoujar pass and then they crossed a stony plateau to the village of Maaden. They then descended into a valley, crossed a series of difficult dunes, various wadis towards the pass of Elnouk and then new terrain for the event that included magnificent landscapes and dunes through a remote desert wilderness.
By 19.00hrs, only 30 motorcycles and around 15 cars, trucks and SSVs had arrived at the bivouac.
In the cars and trucks section, solo Polaris racer Geoffroy Noel de Burlin delivered another stunning stage performance to record the fastest time, the Belgian finishing 1min 04sec in front of Loic Frebourg after the latter incurred a 12-minute penalty for a refuelling infringement. The 40-year-old Belgian’s feat was all the more remarkable considering his physical handicap and the fact that able-bodied rivals struggled so much on the day’s stage.
Frebourg and Franck Boulay began the day in 15th position in their Can-Am and fourth in the SSV category, but the French duo crossed the stage finish line in a time of 8hr 20min 21sec. It was a special that suited the SSVs and cars and several trucks struggled to make headway.
The French T1 crew of Patrick and Lucas Martin had incurred a 15-minute time penalty at the overnight halt in Aidzidine and that dropped them from second to third in the car/truck category at the start of the day. But the Tarek Mercedes pairing hit back with the third quickest time and snatched the outright lead as a result.
The Belgian trio of Igor Bouwens, Ulrich Boerboom and Frits Driesmans had also been penalised 15 minutes by race officials and that meant victory on the seventh stage was handed to the Hungarian Skania crew of Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi, despite clouting a huge rock. They headed out towards Tidjikja just 3min 40sec adrift of their Belgian rivals and retained second in the overall standings, 14min 33sec adrift of the Martin duo, when Bouwens and his crew were delayed en route to Tidjikja for over two hours following an accident. They eventually plummeted to 24th overall.
Karoly Fazekas, Albert Horn and Peter Csakany were fourth on the day and first in T4 in their Skania and the Can-Ams of Sander Derikx, Patrice Etienne and SSV category leader Benoit Fretin reached the finish in fifth, sixth and seventh positions. Solo trucker Tomas Tomacek recorded the eighth fastest time and climbed to fourth in the standings and third in T4 behind Kovacs and Fazekas.
Johan Elfrink and Dirk Schuttel also lost time after an accident and the Belgian trio of Noel Essers, Marc Lauwers and Tijs Vranken finished the stage over two hours behind and down in sixth overall after being put back on their wheels by the organisers’ sweep truck.
Tomorrow (Thursday, January 16th), the Africa Eco Race caravan remains in Tidjikja. Competitors tackle a spectacular loop stage of 415.07km that starts and finishes at nearby Nimlane, around 27 kilometres from the bivouac.
2020 AFRICA ECO RACE – POSITIONS ON SS8 (unofficial):
1. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 8hr 07min 56sec
2. Giovanni Gritti (ITA) Honda 8hr 10min 11sec
3. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 8hr 18min 01sec
4. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 8hr 20min 02sec
5. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 8hr 21min 54sec
6. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM 8hr 24min 31sec
1. Geoffroy Noel de Burlin (BEL) Polaris (SSV) 8hr 19min 17sec
2. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 8hr 20min 21sec
3. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1) 8hr 23min 23sec
4. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Skania (T4) 8hr 24min 57sec
5. Sander Derikx (NLD) Can-Am (SSV) 8hr 27min 35sec
6. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 8hr 28min 58sec
2020 AFRICA ECO RACE – OVERALL POSITIONS AFTER SS8 (unofficial):
1. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 36hr 24min 05sec
2. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 36hr 26min 10sec
3. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 36hr 54min 13sec
4. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 37hr 06min 49sec
5. Martin Benko (SVK) KTM 39hr 34min 17sec
6. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM 40hr 52min 06sec
7. Pawel Stasiaczek (POL) KTM 41hr 15min 00sec
8. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM 41hr 24min 02sec
9. Michael Johnson (USA) KTM 42hr 00min 02sec
10. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 42hr 13min 40sec, etc
1. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1) 35hr 58min 38sec
2. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Skania (T4) 36hr 13min 11sec
3. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Skania (T4) 39hr 21min 38sec
4. Tomas Tomacek (CZE) Tatra (T4) 39hr 47min 26sec
5. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 40hr 23min 08sec
6. Noel Essers/Marc Lauwers/Tijs Vranken (BEL) MAN (T4) 41hr 36min 08sec
7. Geoffroy Noel de Burlin (BEL) Polaris (SSV) 42hr 17min 37sec
8. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 42hr 34min 12sec
9. Aad van Velsen/Marco Siemons/Michel van Velsen (NDL) Ginaf (T4) 42hr 39min 13sec
10. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 42hr 45min 37sec