Algeria Rally - Sahari Rally stage 6 review

Algeria Rally - Sahari Rally stage 6 review

08.11.2018: SS6 EL MENIA – EL MENIA EL GOLEA: Loop 3 Liaison 4.38km – SS6 119.70 AN INFERNAL ROUND 120km of insidious sandy tracks as dunes dominate the agricultural lands of El Menia. None of the pilots were expecting such an intense day when

EL GOLEA: Loop 3
Liaison 4.38km – SS6 119.70


120km of insidious sandy tracks as dunes dominate the agricultural lands of El Menia. None of the pilots were expecting such an intense day when they set off this morning.

A short SS, one worthy of the famous stages of the Paris-Dakar that used to take place here - once again proving that the Sahari Rally is not a joke. After a very quick, brief plateau, the route led to a large loop of high and steep dunes.

The expectation was the dunes would be more compact at the start of the day, but these immediately were discovered to be crumbly and almost unconquerable. After the first tiresome crossing of the shorter side, the route featured another fast track, and few passages through rocky canyons, and finally back to the dunes.

These dunes were to be crossed length-wise along the peaks for about 23km. To complicate the situation further, a handful of WP masqués were perfidiously distributed on the tops of the highest dunes.

In the magnificent dunes between the first and second round of cars, a city-like traffic jam occurred. Due to the proximity of El Menia, a myriad of supporters came down, lending a hand at digging and suggesting routes to get escape the chaos.

The day proved to be challenging for the motorcycles too, especially for those with heavy twin cylinder bikes. Alessandro Ruoso made it out quite fast, while Alessandro Madonna and his Teneré struggled a bit more. British Salt Lee, on the other hand, was in real trouble. It was truly an effort to convince his Africa Twin Adventure to make it up the dunes, and he arrived back at the bivouac in a terrible mood.

A few of the Italian participants did not make it onto the track today – Gianluca Grassi was still recovering from yesterday’s fall; Matteo Olivetto encountered gearbox failure; and Stefano Turchi did not compete due to temporary poorliness. Paolo Ceci started out in a sprint but broke a third wheel and finished the stage very late and behind.

In the moto category, Algerian Sied Ali Mahammdi took home the first place, with Portuguese Alexandre Azinhais and Italian Livio Metelli respectively behind in second and third place. Alessandro Ruoso is first in the general rankings with 17.02 minute advantage. Englishman Jonathan Blackburn is behind, with Laurent Weibel of France in third place.

In the auto category, it’s an all-Algerian podium, the winning equipe is Bnenmansour-Bnenmansour, followed by Larbi-Bennerrouzi, and then Benmansour-Nour.

In the general rankings for auto, the great Algerian champion Fodil Allahoum, with Giacomo Tognarini navigating, remain at the top. Paolo Ceci and Sara Bioli have also maintained their lead in the general rankings for the SSVs.

I didn’t understand today’s sand right away and I got stuck a few times, but I got all the WP.

It was a great day. The navigation was very difficult, but it was very fun. We crossed some beautiful places. I hope I got all the WP.

: I fell on a large dune and the pilots behind me caught up and we did a part of the track together. Jonathan and I alternated for a part of the way, then we separated. I tried to stay on the CAP rather than the tracks. Aside from a few falls in the sand, it all went well. I thought I wouldn’t make it out of the sand a couple of times though. With my bike, it’s double the effort, but today was difficult for everyone.

Today’s stage was worthy of the Dakar. A short stage, but a very challenging one too. We went from fast tracks to small dunes, to mountain-like dunes. The WP were on the top of the dune, hard to get because it was difficult to see the slopes and the shadows. I think today was the best stage of all.

We punctured three wheels and didn’t have any spares, so we went on with the wheels as they were. We had to leave the track and get back in to make it to the arrival point. We hope we’ll be more lucky tomorrow.

A great stage, but I must say that Algerians don’t know sportsmanship. Helping each other out is the basis of rally-raids. Here, however, it seems like we’re at war. In my first Dakars in Africa, when Thierry Sabine was still competing, we’d always stop to help out other contestants. It seems like here there is dislike between the Algerians who seems to not have understood the spirit of this sport.

Paola Picone - photos APPHotosport


08.11.2018 / MaP

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