After a first day with a lot of animation and as planned, the competitors of the 2015 Africa Eco Race started the second stage, long of 377 km between Merzouga and Mahmid, with a lot of enthousiasme ! A course which was appreciated by all and which gave the opportunity to Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER to confirm his domination in the bike category, to Mathieu SERRADORI to win his very first stage at the wheel of a Buggy and Elisabete JACINTO to win her first stage on this edition.
Bikes were covered with ice when for the liaison to Merzouga and from where the start of the second special stage was given. The cold naturally did not disturb Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER. Even better, this freezing weather was ideal for the Norwegian as the KTM biker dominated the stage and finished 46’31’’ in front of Namibia’s Ingo WALDSCHMIDT and Vadim PRITULYAK just under 9 minutes behind.
Obviously ULLEVALSETER had a huge smile in front of the journalists :
"This second stage was magnificent ! I rediscovered René METGE’s road book which is always very precise and gives you good confidence when you ride. I had great fun and for the moment all is going well !".
The other Norwegian John Olav LINDTJORN also confirmed his good potential by finishing 4th as well as Belgium’s Gilles VANDERWEYEN who finished 5th of today’s stage. On the girls side and after a cautious first stage, Russia’s Anastasiya NIFONTOVA finished in 8th position riding her HUSQVARNA, about 16 minutes in front of Patsy QUICK from Great Britain.
In the provisional general classification, Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER already is over an hour in front of his countryman John Olav LINDTJORN and Gilles VANDERWEYEN in 3rd position, considering the route to Dakar is still long.
On four wheels, it was the leader, Jackie LOOMANS who lost some time today. By bypassing the ideal track the Belgian stuck his TOYOTA pick up in a mud pond losing over 30 minutes, due to the recent flooding in southern Morocco.
The same problem happened to Anton SHIBALOV and his huge KAMAZ truck. This was just perfect for Miroslav ZAPLETAL took advantage of LOOMANS’s situation to finish 2nd on this stage, now being 1st in the general standings 1’32’’ in front of Yuriy SAZONOV also on a Hummer H3 evolution. Jean Antoine SABATIER and his BUGGA ONE completed le podium of the day.
Some of the drivers which animate the car race are SABATIER, 3rd in the general standings behind Yuriy SAZONOV. Also, Philippe PORCHERON and his Peugeot BUGGY just behind the H3 Hummer of Andrey CHEREDNIKOV show the battle has started between the 4WD and Buggies has started for real.
But the real feat of the day was for Mathieu SERRADORI. Although he had some mechanical problems the day before, the frenchman started today with the knife between his teeths showing he is on the Africa Eco Race to fight and not only be present. At the wheel of his « little » PREDATOR X 18 S Buggy, he was perfectly navigated by Didier HAQUETTE. The ex motorbiker didn’t do any mistakes and therefore won his very first stage in his short career on 4 wheels showing his real potential.
In the T2 category, Poland’s Pawel MOLGO finishes first at the wheel of his HDJ 200 TOYOTA right in front of Oliver and Christine AUBINEAU and their KDJ 120. In the General standings MOLGO is first with a 35 minute advance on Jean Louis JUCHAULT. The AUBINEAU spouses are 8 minutes behind JUCHAULT.
Exact same scene in the truck category as for the cars as Elisabete JACINTO and her MAN finish the year beautifully by winning the stage of the day right in front of Tomas TOMECEK and his TATRA Truck.
He is still first in the general standings with only 4 seconds in front of Portugal’s JACINTO and 8 minutes in front of Anton SHIBALOV and his KAMAZ truck.
After a nice meal and a champagne glass for new years eve, the participants will take the start of the 3rd stage between Tagounite and Assa. Due to a change on the road book to get around Lake Iriki which is still filled with water, the stage will be the longest one of the 2015 Africa Eco Race with nearly 450 km long. A very tough day to start the year.