For its 10th edition, the Africa Eco Race will welcome a record number of competitors. More than a hundred vehicles, nearly 200 riders, drivers and co-drivers, will start from Monaco on December 31st. The big favorites of the event will be at the “rendez-vous”: Vladimir Vasilyev, winner in Car category in 2017, Gerard De Rooy in the category Truck and Pal Anders Ullevalseter with his KTM bike.
Norway’s Pal Anders Ullevalseter, a two-time winner of the event, is looking forward to winning again after young Gev Sella from the South Africa stopped him from a third consecutive victory in 2017. Tsuk Sella, Gev’s brother, will try to keep the trophy within the family. Among the other contenders, there will be Italy’s Paolo Ceci and Franco Picco, Morocco’s Harite Gabari, Russia’s Dmitri Agoshkov and Slovakia’s Martin Benko. They will be serious contenders for the podium. Julien Sanchez, French resident in Senegal, could also come and upset the pack.
Reigning bike champion Sunderland claimed, “It’s a big honour for me to be going in with the #1 plate on my bike and this also puts some weight on my shoulders. I’ll be doing my best to keep a cool head and take each day as it comes.”
The 2018 Dakar Rally organisers ASO have unveiled a punishing route for the rally raid elite to tackle when the race returns to South America from January 6-20.
The car, bike, truck, quad and UTV competitors will have to navigate their way across 10,000km of the world’s most hostile motorsport terrain to complete the course.
The 40th anniversary edition of the world’s most iconic rally raid race returns to South America for the 10th time including a trip to Peru after a five-year absence.
Former champions Stéphane Peterhansel, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Sam Sunderland, Toby Price and Eduard Nikolaev will need to draw on all their experience to get through the opening six stages leaving from Lima.
Current truck champion Nikolaev revealed, “The race starts in Peru which has challenging desert sections with big dunes. This race is going to be a serious battle from the first day onwards without any warm-up.”
Anyone expecting it to get easier once the race crosses into Bolivia for three stages will be denied relief as the extreme altitude and dramatic weather changes test everyone to the limit, the La Paz rest day giving the field a much needed chance to regroup.
Argentina provides the backdrop for the final stretch as the draining heat and perilous terrain test the remaining competitors heading into the Cordoba finish.
Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Price said, “Even though we’ve seen the route you still never really know what the Dakar can throw at you until you’re out there racing.”
2018 Dakar Rally route:
The big numbers
7 stages will be 100 percent dunes/off-piste
1 marathon stage for all categories
1 extra marathon stage exclusively for bikes and quads
Over 4,500km of timed special stage
Nearly 4,500km of liaison sections
5 days at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres above sea level.
The five riders from the Monster Energy Honda Team were present at the prestigious EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. Besides visiting the team’s collaborators, the squad were there to back the launch of several of Honda’s latest models.
Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves, Kevin Benavides, Ricky Brabec and Michael Metge were the official Honda Racing Corporation riders in attendance at Milan’s EICMA show as the rally team came out in support of the brand.
In the official presentation of both the brand new Honda models and the different top category teams, the Honda Rally team – the Monster Energy Honda Team – was the most numerous as well as the most sought-after team for press interviews. Subsequently, the riders made their presence noticed at the Honda stand where bike fans in attendance at Milan’s EICMA were able to savour the brand’s latest range of offerings, including the special model that commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the launch of the Africa Twin, one of the marque’s most celebrated models.
The team also took the opportunity to pay a visit to several of Monster Energy Honda Team’s collaborators, such as Motul, Showa, Michelin, Givi, Termignoni, Acerbis, Beta, Tucano Urbano, Supersprox and Vibram, among others.
Sherco TVS Factory Rally team today announced a 3-rider squad for Dakar 2018. Joan Pedrero from Spain will be leading the squad, which also includes Adrien Metge from France and Aravind KP from India. The Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team has been performing strongly in all international rallies and is aiming for a top-10 finish at Dakar 2018.
Dakar 2018 is the 40th edition of the annual international rally-raid, and Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team will be participating in the event for the fourth consecutive year. The rally will be held from January 6 to January 20, 2018. This year, the rally will cover three countries, beginning in Lima, Peru, and passing through La Paz, Bolivia before finally culminating in Córdoba, Argentina, after having traversed a total distance of over 9000 km.
This will be the second time that Aravind KP will participate in Dakar Rally. Joan Pedrero will be participating for the ninth consecutive time, and this will be the third Dakar Rally for Adrien Metge.
Vinay Harne, President – New Product Development, TVS Motor Company says, “Our partnership with Sherco for Dakar has been a hugely rewarding experience for our racing team. We have supported Indian riders and engineers in competing in international events, and this has resulted in immense learning for both the partners. We wish the Sherco TVS Factory Team the very best.”
The Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team participated in four international rally-raids this year – Baja Aragon, Merzouga Rally, PanAfrica Rally and OiLibya Rally of Morocco – with strong finishes in each.
Thomas Teissier, General Manager, Sherco Motorcycles said, “This is the fourth year of our partnership, and with each passing year our preparation for Dakar has become more focused and fierce. We have a strong relationship with TVS Racing, and we have worked together on the existing team structure. We are excited to have Aravind KP in our team again. The preparation has been good so far, and I have full faith in the abilities of our team for Dakar 2018. The preparation in the last two months before the race will be very crucial, and I am sure that the team will perform to the best of their ability.”
Arun Siddharth, Vice President Marketing – Premium Two Wheelers, International Business & TVS Racing, said, “TVS was the first Indian manufacturer to participate at Dakar, and this year we have stepped up our participation in, and preparation for, international rally-raids. Races such as Panafrica Rally, Merzouga Rally and OiLibya Rally have helped us get more exposure, thus helping us improve our readiness for Dakar. Based on our performance at the other rally-raids this year, we are aiming for a top-10 finish at Dakar 2018.”
KP Aravind, winner of the 2015 Raid de Himalaya, will take part in the 2018 Dakar Rally after debuting this year with Sherco TVS Factory Rally team at probably the toughest rally raid in the world.
Experienced Spaniard Joan Pedrero and Adrien Metge from France will be Aravind’s teammates for the January 6-20 event. The Sherco TVS team is aiming for a top-10 finish at Dakar 2018 in their fourth successive year, which will also be the 40th edition of Dakar Rally.
This year, the rally will cover three countries, beginning in Lima, Peru, and passing through La Paz, Bolivia, before finally culminating in Córdoba, Argentina, after having traversed a total distance of over 9,000 km.
While this will be Aravind’s second Dakar, Pedrero will take part in his 10th and Metge his third edition.
“This year, despite breaking my wrist at the first stage, I managed to compete in Dakar Rally. In 2018, I am hoping to finish the rally which in itself a huge achievement. To surmount the challenges of Dakar, we have to train all-year round.”
The Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team participated in four international rally raids this year – Baja Aragon, Merzouga Rally, PanAfrica Rally and OiLibya Rally of Morocco with commendable performances in each.
Riders gathered in the sun, looking far less exhausted than at the other finish lines. They were waiting to caravan back to the San Nicolas Hotel & Casino, after the final brutal day of the BAJA RALLY. Maybe it was the relief from knowing this was the end which made them seem so weightless. No longer burdened by the next step.
All week the top positions in each class volleyed back and forth between celebrated veterans, grass roots underdogs and rookies who were born to race! But for the overall win, the battle raged between two Honda 450s, a KTM 950 Super Enduro and a Polaris RZR. BR champion title-holder Steve Hengeveld has been blowing our minds with his incredible performance racing a UTV for the very first time, snagging an amazing 1st place overall! Garret Poucher, currently holding 3rd place in the SCORE International Series literally left us, and his opponents, in his dusty wake each special stage unsurprisingly on the podium. With Long-time competitor and Rally Comp inventor, Mike Johnson mixed up the stew holding firmly onto the third seat only slipping to 7th once. But the real standout, though in the end malfunctions and minor issues kept him from the podium, newcomer Wes VanNieuwenhuise represented Team Cyclops Adventure Sports in the ADV Expert class and dominated on his “big boy” bike. Riding on a broken foot no less. Not bad for his first navigation rally.
Altogether, the drivers and riders took a beating and came out of the scuffle sweaty, dirty and proud. Everyone who gave their all at the 2017 BAJA RALLY deserves recognition, not because “we’re all winners.” But because if you have the guts and the stamina and the skills to race in Baja, you’re in a league all your own.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Pablo Quintanilla has won the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship at the final round of the series in Morocco. Successfully defending the title he won in 2016, the FR 450 Rally mounted rider wrapped up the 2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally with a top six result in the event’s final overall standings.
Putting in one more solid performance today in the dunes of Morocco, Pablo posted the fourth fastest time in the first 163km-long timed special stage to go on and finish the event with the sixth best time in the short final special. With race organisers opting to re-instate a 20-minute penalty handed to Pablo on day two, the Chilean rider wrapped up the 2017 Morocco Rally with sixth in the event’s final standings.
Collecting the points needed to secure the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Pablo has secured a second consecutive rally championship for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.
Pablo Quintanilla: “I’m over the moon with securing this title. This year’s Morocco Rally has been a tough one and with all the incidents on day two I had to dig really deep to defend my championship. I did my best to remain focused until the end as my main goal was to be world champion again. Everything went well and I never lost my focus. Overall, I felt very strong racing here in Morocco. I felt strong with my navigation and the bike, and this is very important for the coming Dakar Rally. I just want to thank all the members of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team for their hard work and dedication. We’ve all worked really hard during the season and this title is the best reward for all the sacrifices.”
Topping the standings on the sixth and final day of competition in Morocco, Walkner has won the last round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Collecting valuable points, the Austrian rider moved up to third in the series’ final standings.
Walkner: “It’s been a long event and I’m really happy that I won it. During the last few days we were faced with overflowing rivers, long stages with tricky navigation and a series of other things that could have completely changed the outcome of the event. This is my first victory in the championship and it feels good.”
“The new bike has given me a lot of confidence to push and take my riding into a new level. I’m happy with my performance here in Morocco and this is very important heading into the Dakar Rally now. It makes the next three months a lot easier for me. The team have done an awesome job and we are all looking forward to the Dakar Rally.”
Provisional overall standings, Motorcycles
1.Matthias Walkner (KTM) en 10h03’19
2.Kevin Benavides (Honda) à 13’42
3.Ricky Brabec (Honda) à 16’58
4.Antoine Meo (KTM) à 18’27
5.Joan Pedrero (Sherco TVS) à 22’28
6.Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) à 37’22
7.Joachim Rodrigues (Hero) à 44’29
8.Laia Sanz (KTM) à 44’52
9.Santolino Sanchez (Sherco TVS) à 54’30
10.Adrien Metge (Sherco TVS) à 56’52