Merzouga Rally: Stefan Svitko wins the first stage

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German Eicker wins in the quad category on an E-ATV, while the crew Henrichy-Bersey is the fastest in the SSV category.

(pictures: A.S.O.)

SS1 Merzouga – Merzouga 241 km - Liaison 37 km SS 165 km

Experience counts and Stefan Svitko showed his navigation and riding skills in the first demanding stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally in front of Helder Rodrigues and Adrien Van Beveren.

The competitors took an early start this morning to tackle the first 241 km long stage that started in the big dunes of the Merzouga Erg, crossed the Erg Chebbi from south to north and continued on fast grounds before finishing in the dunes.  Navigation was the key and the competitors had the opportunity to test a new type of way point, “the WPC ” (making the navigation more difficult), that they will find also on the Dakar 2017.   

Svitko (KTM), who started 11th, made the difference in the dunes passing many riders and taking the lead. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) finished second after having lost some time due to a navigation mistake in the beginning, followed by his teammate Adrien Van Beveren, third. Ricky Brabec (HRC) set a very good performance, 4th , together with Kevin Benavides (HRC) who broke the forward button of the road book roller at km2 and had to proceed manually for the whole stage.

In the quad category the fastest was Clemens Eicker (E-ATV), rider and owner of the E-ATV, the small German Manufacturer, who won the stage in front of Simon Vitse and Josef Machacek, both on Yamaha.

Started first, the duo Medero – Ventaja of the Delfi Sport opened the track and were doing a great performance when they suffered a puncture in the river bed after CP2 and lost some time to change the tyre. The provisional win goes to the French crew Henrichy- Bersey of AT4R. 

Results Day 1

Quotes
Stefan Svitko: “It was a short but good ride with many dunes, hors-piste and pretty tough navigation”.

Helder Rodrigues: “I was lost at the beginning and then I had to push to catch Farres and Svitko. Once I caught them, we rode together till the end. I tried to open the track as much as possible so that I could practice the navigation. The final part on the dunes was demanding because it was hard to see due to the sun”. 

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Gerard Farres: “It was a challenging start because of the navigation but I enjoyed a lot. I tested for the first time the new way point control, which is a good thing because it makes the stage even more navigated but it took me a bit to understand how it works and I stopped several times to check if I was doing correctly. I’m happy with my result because we are all very close”.

Clemens Eicker: “It’s my first rally with road book and it is a great satisfaction to finish on top of the quad category. We are here also to test the E-ATV that represents the new generation of quads for the Dakar. In total we are four riders with this machine: myself, Somfai, Van den Akker and Josè Luis Espinosa”. 

Henrichy-Bersey: “It was a demanding stage to start but we enjoyed a lot. The navigation was tough but we were able to keep a good pace. The final part in the dunes was really difficult as it was hard to see. We also had an adventure when we jumped, rolled over the roof and landed on the wheels again so that we didn’t even stop!”.