AER The suspense continues on the Tidjikja loop stage at the Africa Eco Race


12th AFRICA ECO RACE (Monaco-Dakar)
January 5th-19th, 2020

Liaison: Tidjikja - Nimlane: 27.16km
Special: Nimlane - Nimlane: 415.07km
Liaison: Nimlane - Tidjikja: 26.88km

For immediate release
Thursday, January 16th, 2020


· Lucci wins Tidjikja loop stage; Botturi extends his motorcycle lead to 4min 08sec
· Patrick and Lucas Martin win Tidjikja loop stage and lead car/truck section by 20min 54sec

TIDJIKJA (MAURITANIA): Italy’s Paulo Lucci regained third place from Great Britain’s Lyndon Poskitt in the motorcycle category of the 12th Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar), after a ninth loop stage in the deserts around Tidjikja in central Mauritania on Thursday.

The Husqsvarna rider clocked a time of 6hr 17min 32sec for the 415.07km special that was one of the most beautiful in terms of spectacular desert scenery in the history of the event. Lucci managed to beat fellow Italian Alessandro Botturi by 2min 08sec, but the second quickest time enabled his Yamaha rival to extend his overall advantage over Norway’s Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter to 4min 08sec.

Lucci and Botturi had decided to ride together to try and increase the latter’s lead over Ullesvalseter, but they lost their way after 10km of the day’s stage and rode an unnecessary eight kilometres. It took them 250km to catch their opponents, but Botturi fell foul of a stony section of the stage and told Lucci not to wait for him on the run to the finish. Lucci duly sealed the stage win but Ullesvalseter conceded 2min 03sec to Botturi.

Italy’s Giovanni Gritti came home in fourth but Poskitt could only finish fifth with late fuel feel issues after leading his rivals into the day’s action. The result meant that the KTM man slipped to fourth in the overall classification.

Slovakia’s Martin Benko and Australia’s Matt Sutherland retained fifth and sixth and it was a good day for the Polish duo of Jacek Czachor and 18-year-old Konrad Dabrowski after their time losses on stage eight. The pair were seventh and sixth on the day’s special and climbed back to seventh and ninth in the standings at the expense of Pawel Stasiaczek and Michael Johnson. Dabrowski is taking part in only his second cross-country rally and started the stage from 41st position after an exhausting arrival into Tidjikja.

Franco Picco pipped Edward Lines to the stage win in the over-450cc section, as Italy’s Gabriel Minelli moved 2min 09sec in front of Sweden’s Anders Berglund in the rankings. The Swede still has his focus on the Motul Xtreme Rider and Malles Motos categories. Frenchman Amaury Baratin was the top Xtreme Rider on the day from Senegal’s Mamadou Bocoum.

A stage win for Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs and Peter Czegledi nearly enabled the Hungarian Skania crew to consolidate their outright lead in the T4 section and close to within 5min 54sec of Patrick and Lucas Martin in the overall car and truck category before a 15-minute time penalty was later imposed when they missed a route waypoint.

Kovacs and his crew had originally won the stage by 5min 31sec from a resurgent Yves and Jean Fromont, the Tarek Buggy crew bouncing back from delays in the run through Morocco, but they too incurred a penalty and the stage win was handed to the Martins duo. They continue to top the T1 section as well and duly claimed the quickest time of the day from Kovacs and his crew,

Patrice Etienne and Jean-Pierre Saint Martin won the SSV section in a Can-Am by 41 seconds from Loic Frebourg and Franck Boulay. Benoit Fretin and Cédric Duplé came home fourth of the SSVs and eighth on the day and continue to lead the competitive all-terrain vehicle category in fourth overall. Solo Polaris racer Geoffroy Noel de Burlin is third amongst the SSVs behind Fretin and Etienne.

The Scania crew of Karoly Fazekas, Albert Horn and Peter Csakany ceded over 70 minutes on the day but retained third overall and second in T4. Solo trucker Tomas Tomacek lost nearly an hour but returned to Tidjikja just 22 seconds behind Fretin in the rankings in fifth overall and third in T4.

The day’s stage began on sand and gravel surfaces and then headed into a series of dunes and sandy terrain, culminating in a long sandy climb between narrow rocky outcrops. The last 35km was a repeat of the morning’s route run in reverse.

With race officials in situ for the day in Tidjikja, there was an opportunity for Jérôme Froissart, the President of Amade – a Monagasque association for the protection and development of children in the world – to distribute hundreds of solar lamps to schools in the Tidjikja area.

Tomorrow (Friday, January 17th), the Africa Eco Race heads from Tidjikja to Idini. The 499.46km stage starts at El Kouaz, 77.34km from the bivouac, and finishes at Aoulegat. A liaison of 23.79km guides the survivors to Idini, a locality in the department of Ouad Naga, situated 55km from Nouakchott.


Patrice Etienne (CAN-AM – 266):
”The special was a feast for the eyes and for the driving. We had a perfect navigation and we were way ahead. At kilometre 260, we passed two small dunes, probably a little too fast. There was also a hit on the left which unbalanced us. We barrel-rolled from the front without the roof touching the ground. We just damaged the rear axle and the front triangle. From there, the day became very, very hard. I have cramps in my hands because it is terrible to drive in these conditions. I felt like I had a truck without power steering. I had never driven a car under these conditions. It was long, long to finish, but it was worth the pain. I am very happy with this first stage (SSV) victory. This is my first off-road rally and I am enjoying myself.”

Alessandro Botturi (Yamaha – 101):
”I decided to attack today and ride with Paolo Lucci, who is a very fast rider who runs very well. Alas, we got lost 10 km after the start. We went 8km back and forth to find the right track and then we spent 250km to catch up with the others. We continued to attack but I fell and told Lucci to continue. I had a hard time restarting my motorcycle because the clutch control was twisted. I didn’t waste too much time, however, and I finally take two minutes back from Pal Anders Ullesvalseter. Everything will be played out between him and me in the last two stages. I will, of course, do everything to keep the title. It was a wonderful special with beautiful landscapes.”

Yves Fromont (Tarek Mercedes – 200):
”It was a wonderful special in beautiful landscapes. At the driving level, there was an excuse to make mistakes. The sand was also very soft. So we were careful. Since our retirement on the first Mauritanian stage, we have not looked at anything in the general classification. We just try to have fun while performing. And then, if we can help Patrick and Lucas Martin, our Team MMO teammates, to win the rally, we will be there.”

Amaury Baratin (KTM – 195):
”I come from motorcycle circuit racing and the Africa Eco Race is my second cross-country rally. I found exactly what I came for. Even if last night, I admit that I was a bit fatigued by a very difficult stage. Today, the special was very varied and very nice with rolling sections, dunes and technical tracks. The assistance for Malles Motos is top. This rally is far from being a discount event. This is a real Dakar and you have to be very well prepared to go to the end. What I intend to do is to see the Pink Lake, which has always made me dream.”

2020 AFRICA ECO RACE – POSITIONS ON SS9 (unofficial):

1. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 6hr 17min 31sec
2. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 6hr 19min 49sec
3. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 6hr 21min 52sec
4. Giovanni Gritti (ITA) Honda 6hr 24min 27sec
5. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 6hr 36min 11sec
6. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 6hr 39min 03sec, etc

1. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1) 6hr 41min 26sec
2. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Skania (T4) 6hr 47min 47sec
3. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 6hr 49min 51sec
4. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 6hr 50min 32sec
5. Yves Fromont (FRA)/Jean Fromont (FRA) Buggy (T1) 6hr 53min 18sec
6. Gert van Van Der Valk/Branco de Lange (NLD) Can-Am (SSV) 6hr 57min 02sec


1. Alessandro Botturi (ITA) Yamaha 42hr 43min 54sec
2. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (NOR) KTM 42hr 48min 02sec
3. Paulo Lucci (ITA) Husqvarna 43hr 24min 20sec
4. Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) KTM 43hr 30min 24sec
5. Martin Benko (SVK) KTM 47hr 09min 52sec
6. Matt Sutherland (AUS) KTM 48hr 09min 45sec
7. Jacek Czachor (POL) KTM 48hr 18min 43sec
8. Pawel Stasiaczek (POL) KTM 48hr 53min 55sec
9. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 49hr 14min 03sec
10. Michael Johnson (USA) KTM 49hr 57min 02sec, etc

1. Patrick Martin (FRA)/Lucas Martin (FRA) Mercedes (T1) 42hr 40min 04sec
2. Miklos Kovacs, Lazlo Acs Peter Czegledi (HUN) Skania (T4) 43hr 00min 58sec
3. Karoly Fazekas/Albert Horn/Peter Csakany (HUN) Skania (T4) 47hr 14min 33sec
4. Benoit Fretin (FRA)/Cédric Duplé (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 47hr 29min 21sec
5. Tomas Tomacek (CZE) Tatra (T4) 47hr 29min 43sec
6. Patrice Etienne (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Saint Martin (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 49hr 24min 03sec
7. Geoffroy Noel de Burlin (BEL) Polaris (SSV) 49hr 24min 36sec
8. Noel Essers/Marc Lauwers/Tijs Vranken (BEL) MAN (T4) 49hr 29min 05sec
9. Loic Frebourg (FRA)/Franck Boulay (FRA) Can-Am (SSV) 49hr 36min 09sec
10. Johan Elfrink (NLD)/Dirk Schuttel (NLD) Mercedes (T4) 50hr 15min 20sec


For further information about the race, contact the competitors’ department, Tel: 377 640 628603, E-mail: concurrents@africarace.com. Website: https://www.africarace.com
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Date issued: 16/01/2020

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