Motorcycle duel goes to the wire as martin duo edge clear in car and truck section at Africa Eco Race

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Italy’s Giovanni Gritti earned a maiden stage win in the motorcycle category on what should have been the longest special stage of the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar) between El Kouaz and Aoulegat in western Mauritania on Friday.

The Honda rider started the day 11th in the overall standings and managed to beat stage runner-up Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter by 1min 51sec on the timed section that was reduced from 499.46km to 249km when three riders were injured and the three organisational helicopters were needed elsewhere.

In turn, Ullesvalseter finished the day’s action 2min 04sec ahead of overall leader Alessandro Botturi and managed to trim the Italian Yamaha rider’s lead to just 2min 04sec heading into the remaining two short stages in Mauritania and Senegal this weekend.

Paulo Lucci opened the special after his win on Friday and set the fourth quickest time to tighten his grip on the final podium place at the expense of Great Britain’s Lyndon Poskitt.

The Polish duo of Jacek Czachor and 18-year-old Konrad Dabrowski completed the special in fifth and sixth with Poskitt down in seventh on the day. That enabled the Poles to settle into sixth and eighth in the general classification with Slovakia’s Martin Benko and Australia’s Matt Sutherland holding fifth and seventh. Pawel Stasiaczek reached Idini in ninth and Gritti rounded off the top 10 at the expense of Michael Johnson.

Senegal’s Mamadou Bocoum topped the times in the over-450cc section from Juan Pablo Guillan and Gabriel Minelli but the latter led outright from Sweden’s Anders Berglund and Bocoum. Frenchman Amaury Baratin was the top Xtreme Rider on the day and took a 23min 07sec advantage over Berglund into the penultimate stage.

With breathtaking scenery, 90% of the action took place on sand with tricky navigation. The second half of the stage, after the refuelling stop for motorcycles and SSVs, was faster between a series of small dunes.

There were no changes in the overall standings in the top six of the car and truck category where Yves and Jean Fromont claimed the stage win in a time of 3hr 48min 32sec.

The Tarek T1 Mercedes Buggy crew beat Patrice Etienne and Jean-Pierre Saint Martin by 9min 36sec and third-placed Benoit Fretin and Cédric Duplé by 13min 11sec.

The result moved the Fromont duo into ninth overall but the fifth quickest time ensured that Patrick and Lucas Martin extended their overall advantage over the T4-leading Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi to 1hr 10min 01sec. The Hungarians, however, are well clear of the chasing pack in T4.

The Scania crew of Karoly Fazekas, Albert Horn and Peter Csakany were sixth and retained third overall, a further three and a half hours adrift, and Fretin held fourth and first in the SSV section after finishing the special just over three minutes behind Etienne. Solo trucker Tomas Tomacek retained sixth in the overall standings.

Belgian solo racer Geoffroy Noel de Burlin had been handily-placed in the SSV section, but the Belgian rolled his Polaris after 20km of the day’s special. The paraplegic driver was not injured and may still make Lac Rose with repairs to his SSV.

The Bowler crew of Alain Coquelle and Grégory Lecomte enjoyed a good day to claim the third quickest time in the T1 category behind Fromont and Martin and they held 13th overall.

Alexey Titov and Dmitry Pavlov have also worked hard on a successful Africa Eco Race and the Ford Raptor duo claimed the T2 win for series production cross-country vehicles and held 10th overall.

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 18th), the rally heads from Idini to an overnight halt across the border in Senegal. After a short liaison of 1.95km, the timed action takes place over 187.17km between Idini and Teverit on the outskirts of Nouakchott and the long liaison of 284.54km includes the border crossing. The stage will incorporate further dune crossings, sandy tracks and difficult navigation.

2020 Africa Eco Race – Positions on SS10 (Unofficial):


1. Giovanni Gritti (ITA) Honda                                                               3hr 43min 05sec

2. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM                                              3hr 44min 56sec

3. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha                                                     3hr 47min 00sec

4. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna                                                            3hr 49min 04sec

5. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM                                                                3hr 49min 25sec

6. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM                                                           3hr 51min 45sec

7. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM                                                                3hr 53min 49sec

Cars / Trucks

1. Yves Fromont (FRA)/Jean Fromont (FRA) Buggy (T1)                                  3hr 48min 32sec

2. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)         3hr 58min 08sec

3. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)                               4hr 01min 43sec

4. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)                           4hr 05min 14sec

5. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1)                             4hr 10min 50sec

6. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Skania (T4)                   4hr 11min 02sec

2020 Africa Eco Race – overall positions after SS10 (unofficial):


1. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha                                          46hr 30min 54sec

2. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM                                   46hr 32min 58sec

3. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna                                                 47hr 13min 24sec

4. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM                                                   47hr 24min 13sec

5. Martin Benko (SVK) KTM                                                      51hr 54min 25sec

6. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM                                                    52hr 08min 08sec

7. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM                                                  52hr 18min 38sec

8. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM                                              53hr 05min 48sec

9. Pawel Stasiaczek (POL) KTM                                               53hr 23min 30sec

10. Giovanni Gritti (ITA) Honda                                                 54hr 03min 49sec etc

Cars / Trucks

1. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1)                            46hr 43min 54sec

2. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Skania (T4)                      47hr 53min 55sec

3. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Skania (T4)                               51hr 25min 35sec

4. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)                                              51hr 31min 04sec

5. Tomas Tomacek (CZE) Tatra (T4)                                                                           51hr 51min 38sec

6. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)  53hr 22min 11sec

7. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV)                           53hr 41min 23sec

8. Noel Essers/Marc Lauwers/Tijs Vranken (BEL) MAN (T4)                           54hr 01min 07sec

9. Yves Fromont (FRA)/Jean Fromont (FRA) Buggy (T1)                                  55hr 01min 30sec

10. Alexey Titov (RUS)/Dmitry Pavlov (RUS) Ford Raptor (T2)                      55hr 39min 11sec, etc