The 12th edition of the Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) got underway in the Principality of Monaco on Saturday evening.
For the fourth year in a row, and blessed with now customary ideal weather conditions with temperatures reaching 20 degrees Centigrade, the city of Menton hosted administrative and technical checks on Friday, January 3rd and Saturday, January 4th. Over the two full days, nearly 300 vehicles and 700 people passed the checks in order to be officially accredited for the unique African adventure.
Chief rally organiser Jean-Louis Schlesser was in an upbeat mood in the assistance park on Saturday afternoon. He said: “I am happy to see that this 12th edition of the Africa Eco Race continues to grow with over 20% more participants. Especially, I notice the increased international reach of our rally with this year 34 countries and five continents represented.
“I am also glad that the amount of motorcycles has doubled and especially the quality of the teams participating. The assistance park does look nicer with some professional structures. The two-wheel competition will be very interesting, but that is not all. In the SSV category, over 20 participants will appreciate the challenge, especially with my good friend Alexandre Debanne, who will be racing in an area he knows very well. I am also looking forward to see what will happen in the big truck category, which always impresses us by its spectacular images.”
Once Africa Eco Race officials had set up the mandatory navigation and security equipment, completed checks on the regulation side and placed all the rally partners’ stickers on the vehicles, competitors had one hour to head to Parc Ferme on Quai Antoine the 1st in Monaco.
At 19.00hrs on Saturday, in front of thousands of spectators, H.S.H Prince Albert II, raised the Monaco flag to give the start to Italian rider Alessandro Botturi, last year’s motorcycle winner.
For 90 minutes, the 140 race vehicles began their 6,000km adventure with up to 4,000km of special stages lying ahead across Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal. The 2020 route features revisions of around 70% and will be extremely challenging for vehicles, drivers and navigators.
But, before that, the Africa Eco Race caravan headed to the Esmeralda of the Grimaldi Lines fleet on Sunday morning.
After 48 hours in the Mediterranean Sea - dedicated to briefings and training - competitors will disembark on Tuesday, January 7th at 07.00hrs at the port of Tanger in Morocco. It will be the start of a long day with a short 23km special stage near Kenitra, in the Maamora oak cork tree forest, followed by a 731 km liaison to the first bivouac in Tarda.
Source: Neil Perkins / Africa Eco Race press release