Today’s stage was the longest one in kilometers as a special stage on the Africa Eco Race 2015. It was also one of the most complete with various African landscapes and of course, the Chegaga Erg which is always a delicate part of the stage in termes of Navigation and steering. Anyhow, even if there were some little problems and two bikers injured, everyone should arrive in Assa tonight.
For the 3rd consecutive day, the bikes category is dominated by Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER. The norwegian bike ris absolutely unbeatable and once again did not do a single error. He was interviewed right at the end of the stage in Icht, first of all wishing a Happy New Year to his countrymen, he explained his stage.
"It had been a long time since I did not start a year as difficultly as today, the stage was long and tough. I found places I already came to on other races and its always a real pleasure to ride on African tracks. I’m always riding at 99% of my capacities because its the only way for me to stay fully concentrated and I really don’t want to fall. So for the moment, everything is still going perfectly as planned and I will not change my method as my goal is to obviously win the Africa Eco Race 2015"
Behind the leader, the bike race is quite animated as Belgium’s Gilles VANDERWEYEN classifies 2nd today, 2’15’’ in front of Robert THEURETZBACHER who’s coming back in the top of the ranks. Namibia’s Ingo WALDSCHMIDT confirms his outsider status by finishing 4th of the day right in front of the surprising Anastasiya NIFONTOVA, only 45 minutes behind the best time of the day. Unfortunately, she won’t have anymore girl opponent as Patsy QUICK fell sharply. She has been transported to the hospital of Guelmine and was diagnosed with a thoracic trauma and a shoulder dislocation. One other biker have been injured ; Andrew NEWLAND from Great Britain broke his clavicle. All two of them should be rapatriated in Europe tomorrow.
In the général rankings on two wheels, Pal Anders ULLEVALSETER is already 1h42’38’’ ahead of Gilles VANDERWEYEN and a bit more than 2 hours ahead of Robert THEURETZBACHER, whereas Ingo WADSCHMIDT is 4th and Nobert DUBOIS is in 5th position right in front of Anastasiya NIVONTOVA.
In the Auto category, the Africa Eco Race has a 3rd overall leader in three days of race. We can say the battle is harsh and its only the start. Today, the victory was for Jacky LOOMANS winning his second stage since the beginning of the event.
He managed a nice performance even though he got stuck at the top of a dune in the first part of the stage. Luckily he found the way to get out of it and push hard to finish first in Icht. He was very happy at the end of the stage:
"That’s a very nice way to begin the year ! I had to push and catch up on the time I lost on yesterday’s stage. I couldn’t imagine I could get stuck in a mud pond in the desert. From now on, I will try and proceed like this on every stage to get back in top rankings."
LOOMANS is 8’42’’ behind Yuriy SAZONOV’s HUMMER H3 who is now leading the ranks in front of Mirosav ZAPLETAL. He got stuck quite seriously in the Erg of Chegaga and is now 2’10’’ behind SAZONOV.
The 4WD’s are now beating the buggies even though they are doing their very best to keep contact. The nice resisting performance was for Mathieu SERRADORI, 3rd of the day behind Kanat SHAGIROV and his TOYOTA.
But today’s big performance was for both KAMAZ trucks of Anton SHIBALOV and Sergey KUPRIANOV finishing 2nd and 3rd of the Auto-Truck ranks of the day. They obviously are now on top of the general Truck standings right in front of Tomas TOMECEK’s Tatra Truck, who was handicaped by the speed of his truck much more agile in the dunes than fast on tracks. However, the spreads are quite small so the battle between the Desert Mastodons will for sure be intense.
Tomorrow, the 2015 Africa Eco Race will continue its journey down south with a 394km long stage of which 379km will be the special stage between Assa and As Sakn.