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RENE METGE DESCRIBES THE COURSE

Overall, the 2016 AFRICA ECO RACE® will be in line with the previous editions in terms of difficulty and variety of terrain. The only change is rather positive as we found new tracks in Morocco which are a little less rocky. We also have two loop stages in Mauritania which allow the  assistance teams to rest and also save money. Also, the fact of taking the boat directly in Sète will avoid the long descent to the south of Spain. The Rally caravan will arrive in Nador in top shape on Tuesday, December 29 at dawn.

 


Tuesday December 29th 2015

STAGE N°1: NADOR / JORF EL HAMAM: 613 km
LIAISON: NADOR / AMEZIANE: 50 km
SPECIAL STAGE: AMEZIANE / MERADA: 100 km
LIAISON: MERADA / JORF EL HAMAM: 463 km

This first little stage contains all the ingredients of a cross country rally except the dunes. The track is gravelly and rocky as a whole. The route evolves in the heart of an agricultural area with a relatively hard ground, many tracks, but not always visible. Navigators will therefore be sollicitated from the very start. But by following the road book carefully and by anticipating a little, everything should be fine. After ending the stage in Merada, there will still be a 463 km liaison to reach the bivouac located near Erfoud.

 

Wednesday December 30th 2015

STAGE N°2: JORF EL HAMAM / TAGOUNITE: 403 km
LIAISON: JORF EL HAMAM / MERZOUGA: 75 km
SPECIAL STAGE: MERZOUGA / OULED DRISS: 313 km
LIAISON: OULED DRISS / TAGOUNITE: 15 km

For the first time on the AFRICA ECO RACE®, the start is directly set at the bottom of the Merzouga dunes. A well known Erg to all participants in African rallies, which could however be problematic if the sand isn’t compact enough. Once this first difficulty is behind them, the competitors will find both sandy and stony tracks. A portion which has never been explored by the rally in the heart of beautiful landscapes. These tracks will take the competitors to the volcano located near Oued Driss. The vehicles will reach the finish after taking one last small section of dunes and will cross a more or less difficult ford depending on the season. A nice stage in the pure Moroccan tradition.

 

Thursday December 31st 2015

STAGE 3: TAGOUNITE / ASSA: 558 km
LIAISON: TAGOUNITE / OULED DRISS: 15 km
SPECIAL STAGE: OULED DRISS / ICHT: 451 km
LIAISON: ICHT / ASSA: 92 km

The start of the third stage is set on the arrival of the day before. From the beginning of the course, rather technical little dunes will lead participants towards the Oued Draa. The descent into the Oued, as well as getting out of it will be rather complicated. Also, going through the bed of the dry river will be uncomfortable because the track looks like a poorly paved road. Out of the Oued, competitors will find a different Lake Iriki this time, which will be an opportunity to race properly as the usual overlay has changed into a field of small dunes. The Erg Chegaga will be the 100% sand part of the stage. Care should be taken to the tire pressures in order to not lose too much time. Then, the navigation will be easy until the end of the stage since the vehicles will have a great track lined with large cairns. A still very tiresome stage for the competitors, caused by changes of rhythm due to constant irregular coating of the track. The machines and men should be axhausted after arriving at Icht. There will still remain just over 90 km to reach the bivouac at night to celebrate New Year's Eve with champagne and foie gras.

 

Friday January 1st 2016

STAGE 4: ASSA / REMZ EL QUEBIR: 409 km
START FROM THE BIVOUAC
SPECIAL STAGE: ASSA / REMZ EL QUEBIR: 409 km
FINISH AT THE BIVOUAC

Perhaps the nicest stage of the Rally! A true gift given to the drivers for the new year as the track is so nice. A first portion of stage to Msied is already known on the Africa Eco Race, but we wanted to keep it because the track is good, sandy and also features some navigation. In fact, all that is most pleasant in cross country rallies. After Msied it’s a brand new stony and very sinuous track without being too rocky. Then the track widens gradually to finally get on large open spaces with  a very beautiful panorama. Again, the most pleasant stage in terms of driving, with in addition the finish directly at the bivouac.

 

Saturday January 2nd  2016

STAGE 5: REMZ EL QUEBIR / DAKHLA: 695 km
START FROM THE BIVOUAC
SPECIAL STAGE: REMZ EL QUEBIR / JREIFIFA: 453 km
LIAISON: JREIFIFA / DAKHLA: 242 km

After the coolest stage from a driving point of view, place to the nicest one for the eyes. Another start from the bivouac will allow competitors to immediately get in the action. The program of the day on the southern Moroccan stage, is starting with the absolutely magnificent Amra depression. Until the so-called “carpet”, which is actually an ore discharge location where a carpet is used to transport the ore. The course is the same as 2015. Then, instead of continuing on Boujdour, we will head south with, once again, a 100% brand new stage. No big problems are to be reported, if not carefull navigation with the presence of a multitude of parallel tracks but obviously only one is good. The advantage of this new route is to halve the long liaison along the Atlantic Ocean, to the Dakhla bivouac which will be planted on the sea shore, for a well deserved rest day .

 

Sunday January 3rd 2016

RESTING DAY IN DAKLHA

A sunday on a nice waterfront under a beautiful sun and a temperature that could exceed 20 degrees. The opportunity to clean up the machines and allow men to regain strength before the second week of a 100% Mauritanian race.

 

Monday January 4th 2016

STAGE 6: DAKHLA / CHAMI: 617 km
LIAISON: DAKHLA / BOULANOUAR: 438 km
SPECIAL STAGE: BOULANOUAR / CHAMI: 174 km
TRANSFERT: CHAMI / BIVOUAC CHAMI: 5 km

It will be around 5:00 am when the whole caravan of the AFRICA ECO RACE® will start a long liaison to the borders separating Morocco and Mauritania. After passing the No Man's Land between the two borders, vehicles will join the Mauritanian village of Boulanouar from where will be given the start of the day's special stage. Actually a well known stage now, quite fast on a sandy ground, but sometimes complicated in terms of cape navigation and off track. A fun exercise that will give a foretaste of the Mauritanian sand.

 

Tuesday January 5th 2016

STAGE 7: CHAMI / AMODJAR: 444 km
START FROM BIVOUAC
SPECIAL STAGE: CHAMI / AZOUGI: 414 km
LIAISON: AZOUGI / AMODJAR: 30 km

The advantage with Mauritania is that from one year to another, the land changes completely and it is therefore an entirely new track that competitors will find between Chami and Azougi. A small dune portion quite easy to pass marks the start of the stage. Then a portion of small dunes with camel grass will take the competitors to Benichab. Next is a very pleasant track, going full north on a vast expanse that looks like a dike overlooking a stunning panorama. Approximately 200 km which are relatively fast, which will be welcome because the stage is quite long. On the finish, the pass of Azougi will be the ultimate challenge of the day. Once again beautiful for the eyes.
The finish will be where the bivouac was set in 2015. A liaison will then lead the participants at the bottom of the magnificent pass of Amodjar where the bivouac will be for two days.

 

Wednesday January 6th 2016

STAGE 8: AMODJAR / AMODJAR: 498 km
LIAISON: AMODJAR / CHINGUETTI: 79 km
SPECIAL STAGE: CHINGUETTI / AMATI: 377 km
LIAISON: AMATI / AMODJAR: 42 km

A 80km morning liaison to Chinguetti will wake the competitors and put them in shape for a big day, starting with the full descent of Oued Chinguetti. After the passage of a rather rocky mountain, a reduced-speed portion due to the road work of the new route from Atar to Tichit will be an opportunity to relax a bit and admire the landscape, especially in the descent into a Oued overlooked by a huge viaduct. This should for sure attract the attention of the cameramen of the rally. Then comes a  “highway” traced by the runoff of rainwater in the middle of the dunes. Those who participated in the 2014 AFRICA ECO RACE® will be familiar to this place as it’s at this precise point, which has become way better now, that the rally had to be neutralized as the terrain was impassable.Then a narrow and stony pass could cause some punctures to those who are too enthusiastic with the throttle. The magnificent pass of Tifoujar, the descent towards El Gleida followed by a portion of winding tracks in the heart of a dense vegetation will get the competitors around a big dune section, all of that with a lot of navigation, will bring vehicles to the finish not far from Atar.

 

Thursday January 7th 2016

STAGE 9: AMODJAR / AKJOUJT: 493 km
LIAISON: AMODJAR / AKJOUJT: 23 km
SPECIAL STAGE: AOUT / AKJOUJT: 445 km
LIAISON: AKJOUJT / BIVOUAC AKJOUJT: 25 km

The track at the beginning of this stage was used last year but in the other direction. It is relatively fast and pleasant, but very quickly, the first dunes will appear. A difficult dune pack where trucks had made the show in 2015. This is the first difficulty of the day but not the last because there is an abandoned pass which is blocked by a large dune and this will be a great moment of driving, moreover because the scenery is spectacular. The rest will be easier and actually quite fast on sandy tracks which won’t be tricky. Therefore the ones behind should not arrive too late at the bivouac of Akjoujt which is set for the third year and this time for two days.

 

Friday January 8th 2016

STAGE 10: AKJOUJT / AKJOUJT: 403 km
START FROM BIVOUAC
SPECIAL STAGE: AKJOUJT / AKJOUJT: 379 km
LIAISON: AKJOUJT / BIVOUAC AKJOUJT: 24 km

The 100% sand stage of this 8th edition of the AFRICA ECO RACE®. An absolutely beautiful stage, alternating with fast sections and crossings while following the Cape between the dunes.This loop stage can also be an important turning point of the rally because competitors could lose time easily if they get stuck into a ditch for example. Especially on the first dune which is one of the highest in Mauritania and which we know well. During the recos, the sand was not very compact but we still managed to pass flawlessly. It should be the same for everyone in January. It will also be important to think about saving the machines because it’s on this same stage that Mathieu Serradori had broken the engine of his buggy last year, two days away from the finish at Lac Rose.

 

Saturday January 9th 2016

STAGE N°11: AKJOUJT / ST LOUIS: 548 km
START FROM BIVOUAC
SPECIAL STAGE: AKJOUJT / FIMLIT: 208 km
LIAISON: FIMLIT / SAINT LOUIS: 340 km

This final Mauritanian stage should be easy. There will be a crossing right at the beginning and a good track between the dunes. We intentionally avoided the difficulties for the participants to not arrive too late in Saint Louis, Senegal and enjoy properly the last night in the bivouac which is always very friendly, with the official results and reunion for friends and family who decided to do the trip.


Sunday January 10th 2016

STAGE N°12: SAINT LOUIS / DAKAR: 295 km
LIAISON: SAINT LOUIS / KAYAR: 230 km
SPECIAL STAGE: KAYAR / LAC ROSE: 24 km
LIAISON: LAC ROSE / DAKAR: 41 km

After a last night under the beautiful starry sky of Senegal, the finishers of the 2016 AFRICA ECO RACE® will set off at dawn in the very last liaison to Kayar, a fisherman village located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean where the starting line will be set, right on the beach. The last stage long of 24 kilometers will sound like a reward and even, for some competitors, like a deliverance. The podium will be set on the shore of Lac Rose where all the heroes of this eighth edition will receive their trophies, a scene of great emotion and joy.


TOTAL SPECIAL STAGE KM: 3750 km
TOTAL LIAISONS STAGE KM: 2228 km
TOTAL GENERAL STAGE KM: 5978 km

 

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