Its between Toueila and Ghreidat Ligkjoulé, on the west Mauritanian coast near Nouakchott that the last stage of the SONANGOL AFRICA ECO RACE took place. The last selective sector was mainly composed by beautiful dunes and sandy tracks and was a real driving pleasure for the leaders, Jean Louis SCHLESSER, Michael PISANO and Tomas TOMECEK.
Today, Friday 10th of January, the bivouac takes place in St Louis in Senegal, before joining the last stage, tomorrow, on the Atlantic Ocean shore with a mythical arrival at the “Lac Rose”.
Car: Last one for SCHLESSER
In his SONANGOL buggy this morning, SCHLESSER had in mind only one thing, win the last selective sector of the Rally he already won 6 times in 6 years. The “BOSS” didn’t fail and won on a field his knows by heart. As a result, the duo SCHLESSER – MAGNALDI win with 5’11 in front of Jean Antoine SABATIER and Denis ROZAND. The 3rd place of the day is earned by the St Cyprien crew, Xavier LORMAND and Guillaume JORDA, quite sad this year as they wanted to show more of their racing colors and potential on this event, but because of their mechanical problems, they did not get the chance to reach the podium.
Jean Louis SCHLESSER was delighted at the arrival: “The first person for who I have thoughts is of course Michael SCHUMACHER. He is a friend and I really hope he’ll get better and back on track for me to show him what is Africa Race. I want to thank all the people who have worked hard to make this event happen. I also thank Thierry MAGNALDI which has been perfect. He is a great navigator and I would advise him to any top driver. Thanks also to all of our partners, especially SONANGOL without who this whole thing would not happen.”
Few words from Magnaldi: ” I of course want to thank Jean Louis to have trusted me and given me the opportunity to be his navigator. It was a great experience to be in such a car with such a driver. I’m also delighted to be back in Africa which I cherish a lot, throughout a beautiful race with a great organization. I hope I’ll be back soon at the wheel.”
In the general ranks, Jean Louis SCHLESSER wins in front of Jackie LOOMANS and Frits DRIESMANS, winner of the T1 4×4 category, whereas Stephane HENRARD and Bruno BARBIER climb on the 3rd step of the podium and win the Open category.
Jean Antoine SABATIER finishes 4th and 2nd of the T1 2×4 petrol in front of Gilles FLORIN and Hervé COTEL, 8th in the general rankings.
Finishing 10th, Yves and Jean FROMONT win the T1 2×4 diesel category whereas Remy CHAPOT and Michael PAGET, for their first experience in Auto, classify 14th and win the rigid axles category.
The first of the T2 category, close to standard are Philippe THIOLAT and Jean Louis JUCHAULT and finish 24th in general. The first African crew, composed by Thierry MAURY and Jean Sagar MALOUF MAURY finish 35th. Philippe PINCHEDEZ and Thierry PICCO win the T3 category, dedicated to SSVs.
Truck: KOVACS all in!
Even if there wasn’t much suspense concerning the first place in the truck category as Tomas TOMECEK and Vojtech MORAVEK where untouchable with such a gap, but behind nothing was done because Elisabete JACINTOs crew was only 2’50 in front of Miklos KOVACS, Pete CZEGLEDI and Lazlo ACS. Finally the Hungarian motivation took over and the won the stage 4’03 in front of JACINTO. The Portuguese finishes then 3rd with her MAN behing the Hungarian SCANIA.
Bike : PISANO the Manager
«The stage was magnificent. I would have loved to push harder! But the priority was to win the race, but I did not want to take stupid risks. I can’t even realise I won my first rally. I think I under estimated the event’s difficulty, especially in Morocco. But I adapted myself and it worked out. I learned a lot and I’m now more experienced! I’ll be back next years with some friends! Thanks to all the members of the organization.”
These were Michael PISANO’s words and the end of today’s stage won by Robert THEURETZBACHER on his KTM. The 3rd was Gwen BACKX in front of Nobert DUBOIS and Dominique ROBIN, 2nd of the race and winner of the + 450 cc category, but unfortunately injured, falling just in front of the finish line.
Luckily he managed to do the liaison stage and arrived at the bivouac before the pain was too hard to stand. Belgian Biker Joris VAN DYCK, real performer of this edition ends on the 3rd on the podium.
The first and only African biker of this year’s edition, Harite GABARI who raced during 10 days with a painful arm, unfortunately broke his engine and finishes only 10th.
The only girl in the bike category, the beautiful Julia SCHRENK, ends her first major rally in 20th position.
Saturday 11th of January at 11 :00, will take place the awards ceremony, on a podium right next to the “Lac Rose” organized by the Automotive Sport federation of Senegal. The opportunity for the families of various participants to applaud their arrival of the SONANGOL AFRICA ECO RACE, just after the 24km long stage between Kayar and Lac Rose.