The Morocco Desert Challenge has begun

The driver Elisabete Jacinto and the team Bio-Ritmo® held today in Agadir, Morocco, the administrative and technical checks of the Morocco Desert Challenge rally. On this day dedicated to the analysis of the documentation of the teams and the technical compliance of the vehicles, the Portuguese also received their race number. In this edition, they will leave for the competition with the number 503 being, therefore, the third truck on the prologue.

The trio formed by Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho, who participates at the commands of a MAN TGS and has as main objective to conquer a podium place among the trucks performed, in a relaxed atmosphere, all the necessary controls and still had the opportunity to exchange experiences with the members of the teams present in the rally.

This is a day when there is some bustle. We have schedules to accomplish and we cannot be distracted. We hardly have time to take a deep breath when all this administrative part is finished, as we have to follow to the briefing where are given a series of indications that must be taken into account. We like to look at the trucks of our opponents and guess their abilities … to greet everyone but we haven’t got the time to do everything … it is amazing to see the number of people who have gathered this year and all these vehicles ready to race!” said Elisabete Jacinto.

The first stage of the Morocco Desert Challenge begins tomorrow at the legendary Plage Blanche, which is 250 kilometers from Agadir. There will be a prologue with 77 timed kilometers that will be a good adaptation to the rhythm of the race and will serve to establish the order of departure for the second journey of this race.

Elisabete Jacinto promises to be competitive

A few days before the start of the 10th Morocco Desert Challenge, Elisabete Jacinto and the Bio-Ritmo® team are setting the final details to start their third participation in this competition. The Portuguese have been in the last few days in the region of Erfoud, an area of Morocco well known for the great conditions for the practice of off-road, where they could test the performance of the MAN TGS.

With a vast caravan of about 700 participants, this edition of the Morocco Desert Challenge will be quite disputed. The race will feature 30 truck teams registered with Martin Van den Brink, Igor Bouwens, Ales Loprais and Gert Huzink as the most remarkable names. All of these drivers have been able to achieve outstanding results in the truck category along their careers: Martin Van Den Brink from Mammoet Rally Sport’s team has won the last three races of this rally. Igor Bouwens, of the Belgian Gregoor Racing team, was second in the 2016 edition of this race. Ales Loprais, who represents the Czechs of the InstaForex Loprais Team, has already won the Silk Way and had top results in the Dakar rally. Gert Huzink won the Truck category of the Oilibya Du Maroc Rally in 2016 and won the Libya Rally in 2015.

Elisabete Jacinto knows that the competition in this race is very strong, but she also believes that her team has skills that will allow them to stand out from their opponents and, for this reason, admits that it is possible to achieve a good classification: “we have a good team … with many abilities and experienced. We work very well together and know well the terrain in Morocco. If bad luck doesn’t knock on our door, I’m sure we’ll be competitive … and that’s what we will do!” said the driver.

In addition to the Bio-Ritmo® team this year there will be 18 Portuguese in this race. Paulo Rui Ferreira accompanied by Jorge Monteiro and Lourenço Guimarães, which is integrated in a French team, represent the Portuguese colors in the automobile category. Nuno Guilherme, in the SSV, and Mário Patrão, in the motorcycles, composes the remaining Portuguese entourage in this competition.

Elisabete Jacinto follows to Dakar out of the race

Elisabete Jacinto finished her participation in the tenth edition of the Africa Eco Race. The damage of the front differential of the team’s MAN TGS, which broke during yesterday’s selective sector, was irreparable and although the team tried to find a solution to the problem, the procedures were fruitless.

It is to bring to mind that the differential of the truck broke at a time when the Portuguese were in second place in their category. The trio still managed to finish the third special only with the traction on the two rear wheels. On the arrival at the camp they worked hard to solve the situation but it wasn’t possible to find a solution that would allow the Portuguese to continue the race.

However, Elisabete Jacinto will continue to follow the race until Dakar: “We have made every effort to find a solution to our problem. We talked to the competitors who had trucks similar to ours, but none of them had the piece. We contacted the importer in Portugal and there was a possibility of having the piece coming from Casablanca. Our idea was to repair the truck on the rest day and continue the race from Mauritania on. But because of the weekend this hypothesis was soon made impracticable because they needed at least four working days to send the piece. Now our option is to continue until Dakar. Marco and Helder arranged a way to get the truck rolling down the road, which was also an unprecedented experience. I’m really sorry for what happened because the shock absorbers were excellent for the first time, which allowed me to ride quite fast. Zé was doing a perfect navigation job, and everything ran beautifully when this happened. It was indeed a huge frustration for everyone” said the driver.

Today was the fourth stage of the Africa Race that had a special of 499 timed kilometers. Tomorrow the caravan arrives in Dahkla, where the race will have, on Sunday, the usual rest day and then leave for Mauritania. The rally ends on the 14th in Dakar where the mythical leg held on the banks of the Lac Rose will take place.

Elisabete Jacinto discussed leadership of the stage but broken differential made victory impossible

The Portuguese driver Elisabete Jacinto concluded today another stage of the Africa Race 2018, the third one that was fulfilled between Agdal and Assa, in Morocco. The day started very well for the Bio-Ritmo® team which registered a very fast speed during much of the special. Until CP2, the Portuguese were in second place among the trucks and were discussing closely the lead with the Hungarian Micklos Kovacs. But a few kilometers from the CP3, the front differential of the MAN TGS broke making difficult the progress of the Portuguese who finished the day in the 10th place of their category.

The trio, made up of Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho, had a small difference of 40 seconds of the first place when the setback arose which ended up making it impossible for the Portuguese team to keep the speed particularly in the dune zone. The Bio-Ritmo® team completed the selective sector, which was won by the Dutch Gerard De Rooy, in 6h00m02s. The Portuguese are now in fifth place in the overall T4 standings.

Although it is a difficult situation to solve, Elisabete Jacinto continues in the race: “we were driving very well when at one point we heard a noise. We did a few more kilometers, but the noise began to grow and we stopped to see what was happening. That’s when we realized that the front differential had broken. From that moment on we made the rest of the race with two-wheel drive, which meant we had to roll slowly and it was more difficult to finish the special. Still we managed to print a good speed until the end and now we have to try to solve the problem so that tomorrow we can be at the start”, revealed the Portuguese.

Tomorrow will be the fourth stage of the Africa Eco Race which will link Assa to Fort Chacal. It will be held 499 timed kilometers in this which will be the longest leg of the whole rally. The journey will be particularly complex in terms of navigation and will require a lot of concentration. In addition to returning to the Oued Draa the caravan will enter a plains area without much landscape and therefore without many visual points to navigate. Even before reaching the camp at Fort Chacal, the competitors will face the final challenge of crossing the Oued Hamra.

Elisabete Jacinto increases among the trucks

The Portuguese driver Elisabete Jacinto finished today in the fourth place among the trucks the second stage of the Africa Race 2018, whose selective sector of 443 kilometers was disputed between Merzouga and Foum Zguid. The Bio-Ritmo® team took 7h06m45s to complete this long and very demanding day and, with the result achieved, climbs a place in the overall standings table and is now in the fourth position in the T4 category.

The special began with a complex passage through the Erg Chebbi dunes where the Portuguese suffered a setback that made them lose more than 40 minutes. The truck got stuck in the soft sand and it took a lot of work to remove it from the place where it got buried. But the Portuguese trio, composed by Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques and Marco Cochinho, didn’t fade away. As soon as they were able to solve the difficulty, they started a brilliant recovery that made them move up from a modest 12th position, their classification in CP1, to the fourth place at the end of the stage.

For Elisabete Jacinto, although hard and tiring, this was a very rewarding stage: “the Erg Chebbi’s crossing was truly stressful. We were passing the dunes very well but at a point the truck got stuck in the sand. We stopped for over 40 minutes to dig and we saw all the competitors coming by. It was a despairing. But as soon as we got out of there we printed the fastest pace we could and fortunately we didn’t have any more complicated situations, even though we made lots of dune crossing. The hardest part was to pass so many riders. However, we gave our best. At the end of the special we speeded up and we were able to make a very positive result. We are happy”, said the driver who is currently in the 19th place in the classification of cars and trucks.

The third stage of the Africa Race will be held between Agdal and Assa and will be composed by 400 timed kilometers in a selective sector that will be quite fast. Near the end of the day competitors will have to cross Oued Draa again and at this point the navigation will be complex and difficulties may arise. The camp will be located on the outskirts of the city of Assa.