This Tuesday 1st of January, at 6AM sharp, the “GNV CRYSTAL” ferry transporting the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan arrived at Nador port in Northern Morocco. After customs formalities, that were longer than usual due to a new software inaugurated that day, the race was able to start two hours late. A delay without consequence other than give the motorbike competitors a warmer start.

BOTTURI, powerful start

Even if this 90km stage didn’t included much difficulty on the technical aspect but, as René METGE said during the general briefing on the boat, the navigation wouldn’t be easy. The Sports Director of the stage could not have been more right as most of the Bike competitors had a hard time finding their way. The only to have perfectly managed his navigation was Alessandro BOTTURI who, on his factory YAMAHA, and therefore was ahead Pal Anders ULLEVALSETTER and his KTM by more than 6 minutes. Quite some difference for a 90 Km stage but it won’t be hard for the Norwegian to get back on track, unlike Francisco ARREDONDO, one of the favorites of the race, who was 30 minutes behind the winner of the day. On the other hand, Richard KAYE did a good performance with a 3rd place today on his KTM.

LAURE and CRESPO, against all odds in the car category

Starting ahead of the category from Ameziane, village situated 55km from Nador, Dominique HOUSIEAUX and Arnaud DEBRON were not caught up by the competition and it was only after the arrival of the 9th competitor that we realized that the Buggy OPTIMUS N°200 was leaded on the scratch by 58 seconds. The best time of the day is for Dominique LAURE, perfectly navigated by Christophe CRESPO, them also on one of the seven OPTIMUS of Team MD Rally participating this year. A great performance for this gentleman driver, part of team “Les Fous du Volant”, which were noticed before in 2018 by getting first place on the hardest stage from Amodjar to Akjoujt in Mauritania. “Rock and gravel”, nickname for David GERARD and Pascal DELACOUR, on the other OPTIMUS with “Fous du Volant” colors, complete the podium, ahead of Patrick MARTIN and Didier BIGOT TAREK MERCEDES Buggy. The first 4×4 vehicles in the ranking will be Alexey TITOV and his monstrous FORD RAPTOR as well as Andrey RUSOV, first of the T2 category. The Russians were ahead of the NISSAN Pick-up of Francois and Stéphane COUSIN, surprised and happy to find themselves in the top 10. In the SSV category, good start for Jean Hugues MONEYRON and Thierry BERRAZ who arrive in 12th place in front of veteran Jean Claude RUFFIER’s POLARIS RZR. On the other hand, unfortunate ordeal for Philippe PINCHEDEZ and Francois BEGUIN who see their chance at winning the SSV category blown away after their CAN AM fell in a hole while trying to pass another competitor. Last we heard, the team and vehicle were being brought back by the Balai truck.

In the Trucks category, onboard his IVECO, the Belgium Igor BOUWENS did good by being only 11 seconds away from the winner of the scratch Dominique LAURE. A great success for this driver who is participating for the first time in the AFRICA ECO RACE, following his father’s steps. Good result also for Elisabete JACINTO who ranks 2nd position in the category in her MAN and 4th in the scratch. Tomas TOMECEK, prudent as the navigation was complicated for a solo driver, end up last on the podium.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd of January, after a very cold night, the stage of 430km that will bring our competitors from La Momie to Agdal, will include all types of Moroccan landscapes. A stage that will definitely open hostilities on this 11th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE.