Lucci wins penultimate stage of 12th Africa Eco Race
ST.LOUIS (SENEGAL): Italy’s Paulo Lucci won the penultimate stage of the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) between Idini and Teverit in western Mauritania on Saturday. But all eyes were on the fascinating duel between fellow countryman Alessandro Botturi and Norwegian rival Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter in the battle for two-wheel honours.
Botturi quickly caught and beat his Honda rival by 1min 55sec on the day’s stage with the fifth quickest time behind Lucci, Matt Sutherland, Jacek Czachor and Lyndon Poskitt and that enabled the Yamaha rider to seal a second successive victory in the motorcycle category of the Africa Eco Race by the winning margin of 3min 59sec. Both riders have now claimed two wins apiece on the African classic.
Ullesvalseter also won the Veterans’ trophy and 18-year-old Dabrowski was the leading Junior. Frenchman Thibault Chatelier earned the trophy for being the first experimental motorcycle home and Senegalese rider Mamadou Bocou was the first African to finish.
The day’s stage ran for 187.16km between Idini and Teverit in Mauritania before the Africa Eco Race caravan crossed the border into Senegal. The relatively fast stage featured some dune crossings, before the liaison of 284.54km guided teams to the bivouac on the old aerodrome at St. Louis.
There were no changes within the overall standings in the top five in either the motorcycle or car/truck categories on a stage where Dutchman Stephan Savelkouls emerged as the top man in the Xtreme Rider category from Senegal’s Mamadou Bocoum and Frenchman Amaury Baratin, the latter claiming the category win from Sweden’s Anders Berglund. Franco Picco pipped Bocoum to the stage win in the over-450cc section, although Berglund sealed overall victory in the category.
Patrick and Lucas Martin claimed outright victory in the car and truck section by the margin of 1hr 06min 53sec in their T1-winning Tarek Mercedes. The duo erred on the side of caution on the day’s stage and were only 12th fastest with the special being dominated by the four Can-Am SSVs of category winner Patrice Etienne, Gert-jan Van Der Walk, Loic Frebourg and Senegal’s Kamil Rahal.
The T4-winning Scania truck of Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi was the Martin duo’s closest challenger in second overall and their fellow Hungarians, Karoly Fazekas, Albert Horn and Peter Csakany, finished second in T4 and third in the general standings, albeit three and a half hours behind their fellow countrymen after surviving a serious mechanical issue before the start of the day’s stage.
Benoit Fretin and Cédric Duplé were sixth on the day’s timed test and won the SSV category from Etienne and Frebourg. Solo trucker Tomas Tomacek finished sixth overall and was sandwiched between the SSVs of Fretin and Etienne in the final standings.
The Russian crew of Alexey Titov and Dmitry Pavlov were pushed out of the top 10 by the T4 Mercedes of Johan Elfrink and Dirk Schuttel, but the Ford Raptor crew dominated the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles in 11th overall.
Alex Cole and Emma Osman finished 1hr 40min ahead of their Bowler rivals Andrew Wicklow and Simon Armstrong in the Open category and the French pairing of Alain Coquelle and Grégory Lecomte finished first in the four-wheel drive T1 category in their Bowler.
Laurent Ducreux and Philippe Cantreau prevailed in the four-wheel drive T1 diesel section in a Land Rover, while Pierre-Guy and Hilaire Celerier won their class in a Bowler.
Tomorrow (Sunday, January 19th), the surviving competitors will achieve their goal of reaching Lac Rose, near Dakar, and the finish of the 12th Africa Eco Race.
Standing in their way is a liaison section of 229.67km between St. Louis and the start of a 21.93km special stage at Niokhob. The celebratory stage finishes at Lac Rose – the scene of so many famous cross-country moments in the history of African cross-country rallying – and a second liaison of 40.37km takes competitors on to Dakar.
Competitors will climb a podium built by the Senegalese AutoSports and Motorcycle Federation in the presence of VIPs, families, friends, assistants, media and motorsport enthusiasts from around the world.
2020 AFRICA ECO RACE – POSITIONS ON SS11:
1. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 2hr 14min 38sec
2. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM 2hr 14min 51sec
3. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM 2hr 15min 02sec
4. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 2hr 15min 13sec
5. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 2hr 16min 36sec
6. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 2hr 17min 49sec
7. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 2hr 18min 31sec, etc
1. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 2hr 19min 17sec
2. Gert-jan van Der Valk (NLD)/Branco de Lange (NLD) Can-Am (SSV) 2hr 24min 06sec
3. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 2hr 25min 55sec
4. Kamil Rahal (SEN)/Thierry Sanchez (SEN) Can-Am (SSV) 2hr 26min 08sec
5. Johan Elfrink (NLD)/Dirk Schuttel (NLD) Mercedes (T4) 2hr 27min 30sec
6. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 2hr 27min 49sec
7. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Scania (T4) 2hr 28min 09sec, etc
2020 AFRICA ECO RACE – OVERALL POSITIONS AFTER SS11:
1. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 48hr 47min 30sec
2. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 48hr 51min 29sec
3. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 49hr 39min 26sec
4. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 49hr 43min 02sec
5. Martin Benko (SVK) KTM 54hr 11min 17sec
6. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM 54hr 23min 10sec
7. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM 54hr 33min 29sec
8. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 55hr 23min 37sec
9. Pawel Stasiaczek (POL) KTM 55hr 49min 55sec
10. Giovanni Gritti (ITA) Honda 56hr 24min 33sec etc
1. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1) 49hr 15min 11sec
2. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Scania (T4) 50hr 22min 04sec
3. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Scania (T4) 53hr 58min 21sec
4. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 53hr 58min 53sec
5. Tomas Tomacek (CZE) Tatra (T4) 54hr 27min 30sec
6. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 55hr 41min 28sec
7. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 56hr 07min 18sec
8. Noel Essers/Marc Lauwers/Tijs Vranken (BEL) MAN (T4) 56hr 52min 26sec
9. Yves Fromont (FRA)/Jean Fromont (FRA) Buggy (T1) 57hr 34min 00sec
10. Johan Elfrink (NLD)/Dirk Schuttel (NLD) Mercedes (T4) 58hr 23min 03sec
11. Alexey Titov (RUS)/Dmitry Pavlov (RUS) Ford Raptor (T2) 58hr 24min 55sec, etc