Dutchman Sander Derikx and Italian rider Alessandro Botturi claimed the early bragging rights with the fastest time in their respective SSV and motorcycle categories on the short opening stage of the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) through the Maamora oak cork tree forest in northern Morocco on Tuesday morning.
Botturi claimed the win on the short 23km special stage in the region of Kenitra before the Africa Eco Race caravan headed deep into Morocco for the night halt in Tarda. The Yamaha rider carded a time of 20min 33sec to beat England’s Lyndon Poskitt (KTM) by 1min 57sec with Norwegian Felix Jensen (KTM) in third place.
England’s Joseph Evans and Poland’s Konrad Dabrowski rounded off the top five amongst the two wheel contingent. At 18-year-old, the Pole is the youngest competitor in the race.
Jan Zatko was the leading rider on a motorcycle over 450cc on his KTM, while Amaury Baratin led the Motul Extreme Rider category reserved for unassisted riders - also called "motorcycle trunk” – with the 15th quickest time.
Solo entrant Sander Derikx overcame the tricky navigation and was the fastest in the SSV category with his Can-Am, the Dutchman beating fellow Can-Am driver Benoit Fretin and co-driver Cédric Duplé by 16 seconds. Fellow Dutchman Ruud Vollebregt was third with navigator Frederik Meijer. In so doing, Derikx became the first solo rider to win a special stage at the Africa Eco Race.
Great Britain’s Alex Cole and Emma Osman topped the traditional car category in their powerful Bowler, the duo setting a time of 26min 31sec to head the Open class in fifth overall.
Russia’s Alexey Titov beat Portugal’s Fernando Barreiros to T2 honours in his Ford Raptor and Frenchman Maxime Lacarrau topped T1 before the caravan embarked upon the long journey south to Tarda and warmer overnight temperatures.
In the truck section, the Scania crew of Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi were 11th in the overall standings and first in category. The Hungarians are more than 10 minutes in front of the Russian GAZ, crewed by Boleslav Levitskii and Stanislav Dolgov, and 15 minutes ahead of the MAN of the Belgian trio of Patrick Hillewaere, Nikolas Dejonckeere and Philip Helewaut.
It may only hae been a short stage by African standards, but there are already gaps in the arious classifications. As René Metge, the Sporting Director of the Africa Eco Race said, “It is at the end of the ball that we pay the musicians!"
Tomorrow (Wednesday January 8th), competitors will tackle a route of 368km, including 329km of timed selective section between Tarda and Mhamid.
Source: Neil Perkins / Africa Eco Race press release