Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meanwhile in Northern Africa...

...the Africa ECO Race is underway, unfortunately and seemingly to be perpetually in the shadow of the Dakar Rally. After scrutineering yesterday, competitors are embarking on the trip to Morocco for the start of Stage 1 on Wednesday 29 December from Nador. 12 stages along traditional Dakar Rally routes will see the fortunate arrive at Lac Rose in Dakar. A dream for many whether it be alongside hundreds under the auspices of the ASO or through entry in the Africa Race. To some, it matters not.
I know the Africa Race is in response to the ASO leaving the roots of its founding’s after the 2008 cancellation fiasco. Perhaps the intention by René Metge was to replace the romance many said has become lost in the sheer size of the Dakar Rally and even further so by the move to South America, but it cannot be denied that the ASO brings the profile, which brings the manufacturers and gentlemen racers with deep pockets, which, in turn, attracts the bulk of the competition.
Certainly the Africa Race is not helping itself by staging itself during the same time that the Dakar circus hits Argentina and Chile. With that, the motorbike presence is also curiously low. Seems like 5 entrants this year. Where the Dakar is a cruel mistress lacking any compassion for the dedication and preparation put forth by the competitors, indeed any stumble can render a rider out in an instant, the Africa Race is a bit more relaxed in rulings about continuing from stage to stage. There looks to be a genuine interest by the organizers to get the competitors all the way to Dakar. It is surprising that more are not attracted to that. Especially those that want rally experience in the hopes of tackling the ASO's granddaddy.

From Château de Lastours to Dakar
After administrative and technical checks which will take place at Château de Lastours on next December 27th, the competitors of the third AFRICA ECO RACE® will head for South. From the first stages, in Morocco, pace will be given on surprising and varied terrains. The rest day, January 2nd, will allow the participants to enjoy the magnificent bivouac of Chebeika, at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Then the event will increase little by little in power by approaching Mauritania.
During the rally, the navigation will be a determining parameter to appear in the top of general classification. But as René Metge, Sporting Director, says" By remaining concentrated on the road-book and the capes everything will be OK ! " On the 12 stages of the 2011 edition, competitors will be able to discover all the facets of the African ground:  off-piste, fast tracks, vegetation, grassy valleys,  and crossing the Sahara sands. The balance between the length and the difficulty of the stages has been respected while the liaisons have been reduced. Many starts and finishes of special stages will take place at the bivouac. 
After more than 5.000 km, the rally will traditionally reach the banks of the Lake Rose, on January 9th.
2011 ROUTE
LEG 1 : Wednesday 29th December 2010
Liaison : 181,70 km -  SS1 : 150,28 km  – Liaison : 0,00 km
LEG 2 : Thursday 30th December  2010   
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 2 : 318,21 km – Liaison : 142,51 km
LEG 3: Friday 31st December 2010
Liaison : 4,21 km – SS 3 : 416,14 km – Liaison : 50,53 km
LEG 4: Saturday 1st January 2011   
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 4 : 341,33 km – Liaison : 290,89 km
LEG 5: Sunday 2nd January 2011
Liaison : 306,91 km   
LEG 6: Monday 3rd January 2011
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 5 : 183,33 km – Liaison : 714,74 km
LEG 7 : Tuesday 4th January 2011
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 6 : 371,72 km – Liaison : 20,45 km
LEG 8: Wednesday 5th January 2011   
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 7 : 408,06 km – Liaison : 0,00 km
LEG 9: Thursday 6th January 2011   
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 8: 380,66 km – Liaison : 0,00 km
LEG 10 : Friday 7th January 2011   
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 9 : 232,41 km – Liaison : 0,00 km
LEG 11: Saturday 8th January 2011
Liaison : 0,00 km – SS 10 : 203,36 km – Liaison : 394,26 km
LEG 12 : Sunday 9th January 2011
Liaison : 131,11km – SS 11 : 23,68 km – Liaison : 41,00 km

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