On Saturday 29th December 2012, the Sonangol Africa Eco Race caravan set out for Africa for 13 days of racing in Marocco, Mauritania and Senegal. Held up by customs, the 207 vehicles and 518 participants arrived at the camp at Boutnib as night fell.
At 7h00 on Saturday morning the competitors of the Sonangol Africa Eco Race set out into the North of Morocco. There was a magnificent sunrise to guide the vehicules on their way. Everything was looking good for the first stage that would cover 657 km, of which 245 km being the Special between Nador et Boudnib. However, the Moroccan customs officials held up the cars and lorries, making them lose the entire morning whilst the bikes only lost 2 hours overall. The result was a complete nightmare for the first day, ending up with the participants not only failing to finish the Special stage, but also not completing the liasison before nightfall. The race director decided to halve the route for the bikes and completely cancel the stage for the cars and trucks.
The bikes were faced with a 140 km stage, fairly easy to ride but with complicated navigation. The Italian Stefano TURCHI set the bar high and brought in his KTM 690 in first place.
The surprise of the day came from the Frenchman Joseph PALACIOS who finished 7’25’’ behind the leader. A great performance from the rider from Nimes who has gone down a class by taking part in the 450 catagory this year. Third place went to German rider Helly FRAUWALLNER on a HONDA 450, only 19’’ from PACACIOS. Amongst the favorites on the rally in the bike catagory, we found Norbert DUBOIS, who was back for the first time on a KTM, finishing in 10th place whilst the Venezualian Luciano DI BATTISTA on his HM 450 only finished 15th. The two Austrian actors from Team Kini on their KTM 450’s on the Sonangol Africa Eco Race did well and Tobbias MORETTI finished 13th whilst his teammate Gregor BLOEB finished 23rd about 40 minutes off the scratch.
The win in the quad catagory was taken by Italian Stefano DALLA VALLE. His KTM pulled out a clear lead from the YAMAHA of Frenchwoman Emma CLAIR, who only let 10 minutes slip from the leader. The battle is on!
Sunday December 30th 2012: The Africa Eco Race continued it’s progression South and the next camp was set up at Tagounite. There are 431 km planned on this stage with 409 km of Special including the first dune crossings at Merzouga. An exceptional way to start the rally for the 4 wheeled competitors and the chance to impose over their rivals in the bike category…