With the famous Dakar Rally relocating from Africa to thousands of miles away in South America, another rally, the Africa Eco Race tracing part of the original Paris-Dakar route took place in the deserts of Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal.
It was sigh of relief to competitors and race officials as the Africa Eco Rally came to end on a high note in the coastal city of Dakar Senegal without any major incidents.
Norways’ Pal Anders Ullevaseter won the motorcycle category and was closely followed by Namibia’s Waldshmidt Ingo.
“It’s a great feeling to be number one, to arrive here in Dakar and win the race but also to see Dakar and meet all the people. I have been here six times but everytime is magic,” he said.
Ingo said he was aiming to finish among the top ten but was thrilled by the final outcome.
“I’m very very impressed, the race was very well organized and I came here thinking that I would finish top ten and I ended up in third, I’m actually so shocked, I can't believe that I’ve made it,” he said.
Meanwhile France’s Jean-Antone Sabatier won the car category of the event, an answer to the cancellation of the original Paris-Dakar rally.
The race brought back a feeling of nostalgia of the original rally, which was moved out of the continent following threats of attacks on competitors in the Sahel desert by groups linked to al Qaeda terrorist group.

The Africa Eco Race is an annual off-road event that is organized in North America, particularly in Senegal, Morocco and Mauritania. The race was started in 2009 after the Dakar Rally, a rally raid native to Senegal, was canceled in 2008 over terrorist threats and was subsequently moved to South America where it has been held since. The Africa Eco Race was launched in the spirit of the real Dakar, where organizers targeted both amateurs and professionals to compete in over 6,500 kilometers of desert over 11 stages in each of the three categories; trucks, bikes and cars.

Due to its history the rally takes special interest in security issues, humanitarian needs and individual awareness of eco-responsibility. In 2011, the organizers of the rally raid funded the planting of 3,000 native eucalyptus trees in Mauritania and also created two power generation projects for a school and library. In addition, they created a category for experimental vehicles powered by renewable energy effectively pioneering new environmental sustainability standards in the motorsport industry. This year’s Africa Eco Race was no different as 3 tons of donations were collected, including toys, school furniture, clothes, sportswear and medical supplies.

Since its inauguration, Jean-Louis “Desert Fox” Schlesser and his co-driver Cyril Esquirol have consistently dominated the car category with their Schlesser-Renault Buggy with the exception of this year when fellow Frenchmen Jean Antoine Sabatier and his co-driver Jean-Luc Rajat bagged the trophy. The truck category was scooped by the Russian Anton Shibalov in a Kamaz racing beast while Norwegian Rider Pal Anders Ullevalseter took home the spoils for the bike category riding a KTM sport motorcycle. The 7th Edition of the Africa Eco Race concluded on January 11th at Lac Rose, Dakar after an arduous 6,837 kilometers undeterred by heavy downpours and Ebola concerns. The AER 2016 is set to begin on December 27th and preparations are already underway for the much anticipated showdown.