Alessandro Botturi tops the overall standings of the 2020 Africa Eco Race after stage three, rally legend Pal Anders Ullevalseter is poised in second.
Now in its twelfth year, the Africa Eco Race got underway this week with riders heading deep into the land that gave the birth of the original Dakar Rally.
With only a quarter of the race covered, predicting the winner is risky but so far it is proving to be a two-horse race between last year’s winner, Alessandro Botturi and Dakar veteran, Pal Anders Ullevalseter.
Botturi leads the way after stage three but Ullevalseter is less than three minutes behind with Felix Jensen third, 24 minutes down, and adventurer Lyndon Poskitt in fourth eager to put his Motorex-backed KTM on the podium.
Stage 1 – Botturi takes first blood
After arriving to Tangier early off the ferry on January 7, Lyndon Poskitt was the first rider to head into the 754km stage one. With only an easy 23km special it was basically a warm up in terms of racing but anything buit on the long, long liaison.
Last year’s winner Botturi posted the fastest time ahead of Poskitt two minutes later and Felix Jensen made it to third four minutes behind.
The races youngest competitor, Konrad Dabrowski (18), scored an impressive fifth place aiming for a potential top 10 finish.
Stage 2 – Old dog Ullevalseter shows the way
With temperatures down to -3 degrees at sunrise, riders left the Tarda bivouac for a 333km special stage of typical Moroccan tracks and few small dune crossings.
Regrouping from a bad opening stage, Ullevalseter showed why he has nine top 10 finishes in the Dakar Rally and won the stage eight minutes ahead of Poskitt with Botturi arriving third nearly 10 minutes back.
Being the first riders out in a tricky navigation stage proved not to be ideal for Botturi and Poskitt as they found themselves lost multiple times, ultimately deciding to ride together to the finish line.
Ullevalseter took advantage of their mistakes to end up taking command of the overall by 1’29” over Botturi and 2’01” over Poskitt.
Waist down paralyzed rider Nicola Dutto switched from Dakar to the Africa Eco Race for 2020 and thanks to the help of two support riders, he found himself a remarkable 26th in the overall ranking by the end of the stage.
Stage 3 – Botturi takes the lead back
With nearly 500km of special stage to be covered on day three between Mhamid and Assa the riders faced real dunes for the first time.
Same story on the third day of racing as the first two riders to open the track, Ullevalseter and Botturi, found it difficult to make a gap and decided to ride together after the refuelling. As a result, Ullevalseter lost the overall lead but remains second nearly three minutes behind the leader Botturi.
Jensen made it to third once more jumping up to third also in the overall, anyway he’s 23’44” down from Botturi and 21’5” down from Ullevalseter so he’ll have to wait for a mistake from his rivals to climb up the rankings.
Poskitt had a day to forget struggling in the dunes but played it safe until the finish line. The lower pace cost him some valuable minutes and ended up finishing the stage in sixth, over half an hour behind the winner, and dropping to fourth overall.
2020 Africa Eco Race standings after stage 3:
Nine stages remain in the 2020 Africa Eco Race.
More information: AfricaRace.comPhoto Credit: RallyManiacs + Africa Eco Race Igor AguadoEnduro21 Junior EditorIgor.firstname.lastname@example.org