The 10th edition of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, was launched Monday, 127 competitors took a frantic race in a long loop of 208 km around Xaluca. Among them, four women participate in motorcycle and aim to participate in the next Dakar. The first stage was won by Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) on motorbike, by Axel Dutrie on quad (Yamaha) and by Nasser Al-Attiyah on Side by Side.
At the end of the stage, a training course dedicated to “GPS coaching” was offered to the pilots, and a new 212 km loop awaited competitors on Tuesday for the second stage. Four women participate in the motorcycle rally while three are co-drivers in Side by Side. Kristen Landman, Calheine Perry, the Greek Polytimi Kriakopoulou and the native of Andorra Margot Llobera. They have only one goal: to participate in the Dakar next January. “Coming here represents a very good opportunity to progress while ensuring a qualification for the Dakar,” says Margot Llobera. “I’m not used to crossing dunes, says Polytimi Kriakopoulou. In Greece, there is sand only on the beaches! “
Kristen Landman and Calheine Perry, they could become in 2020 the first South African to participate in the Dakar. “It has always been a dream, but to make it a reality, you have to be patient and learn to fight on the track,” explains Calheine Perry. “We are enthusiastic about South Africa, which is an additional motivation,” said Kristen Landman.
On the other hand, no question for them to have a preferential treatment. “Behind the helmet, no one distinguishes between women and men, confirms Margot Llobera. The challenge is raised, but it is the same for everyone.
Temporary classifications after the first stage:
1- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) in 3 h 29 min 10
2- Stefan Svitko (KTM) at 5 min 12
3- Michael Metge (Sherco) at 8 min 13
1- Axel Dutrie (Yamaha) in 4 h 31 min 18
2- Clement Jay (Yamaha) at 4 min 04
Side by Side
1- Nasser Al-Attiyah (Can-Am) in 3 h 52 min 33 sec
A new loop around the hotel Xaluca, where the bivouac is set up, is scheduled for Tuesday. The drivers will have to travel 212 km in two parts. The first, 86 km, promises to be particularly delicate with the crossing of the Erg Chebbi dunes which is the reputation of the region of Merzouga. After a neutralization, 120 km remains to be traveled with more rolling sectors but particularly demanding in terms of navigation. “The key word of the day is to know how to go slow to go fast,” said Edo Mossi, the sports director. At the end of the stage, a course on navigation will be offered to pilots.