While the Rally Dakar Stage 8 has been cancelled for motorcycles and quads today, the Africa Eco Race 2020, in the meantime, is in full swing with the rally moving South. The general rankings are still dominated by Italian Alessandro Botturi, Norwegian Anders Ullevalseter, and Lyndon Poskitt who has been posting excellent race updates on his YouTube channel:
Although Poskitt and his team make it look easy, the race to Dakar is anything but. Facing tricky navigation, tough terrain, and long distances, the AER competitors are starting to feel the fatigue. Today, motorcycles started before 5.30 am to make it from Dakhla to Chami, a total of 559 km to the next bivouac.
Poskitt and team seem to be impressed by the Africa Eco Race organization, as well as the pristine Saharan dunes and the surreal landscapes. However, the rally is merely halfway through, and most riders admit that a finish alone would be a huge win.
Andrew Houlihan, Aussie rider who manages to find time to send me an update when he can, tells me the Mauritanian tracks were mostly sandy and fast. “Starting in P50, I had a lot of dust to deal with and almost had a big crash in some rocks at high speed so I decided to back off a bit. I think I finished in 19th position which I’m happy with. Big day tomorrow!”, Andrew said. Currently, he is in the 31st position in the overall rankings – a great result on his road to Dakar 2021.
This year’s Africa Eco Race has a very special rider among the competitors, the Italian racer Nicola Dutto who is riding his KTM without the use of his legs. Disqualified from Rally Dakar 2019 for missing one waypoint too many, Dutto is back in the game racing in the AER 2020.
Six more unpredictable Africa Eco Race stages to go before competitors reach the final bivouac in Dakar, Senegal, on the 19th of January.
Images: Africa Eco Race