Thursday 16th January, 2020 – Tidjikja to Tidjikja
Andrew Houlihan has continued his climb back up the rankings in the 2020 Africa ECO Race with a 17th place in today’s 9th stage lifting him to 17th overall.
Fellow Coca-Cola Energy/Nomadas Adventure team rider Pablo Guillen finished today’s stage in 23rd which puts him 1 place behind Andrew in 18th outright.
Despite the brutality of the previous stage, 67 riders fronted the start line for stage 9.
Many riders did not reach the bivouac in Tidjikja at the end of stage 8 until the early hours of the morning, up to 16 hours behind the arrival of the first bikes. Two bikes are still showing as stranded in the dunes from the previous day.
Such is the tenacity of the people who take on these events.
Coca-Cola Energy/Nomadas Adventure team riders Andrew Houlihan and Pablo Guillen were 16th and 9th in the starting order for today’s stage, a 470km loop out through the dunes and back to the Tidjikja bivouac.
Andrew maintained a steady pace and travelled through the waypoints and checkpoints always in around 17th to 20th place.
It was a long, tough and tiring stage.
Aussie Matt Sutherland (Lyndon Poskitt Racing KTM) has held on to his outright 6th place even after finishing today in 8th and dropping an hour to the stage winner, Husqvarna rider Paolo Lucci.
Lucci picked up a place today and sits 3rd, 40 minutes behind the rally leader, Italy’s Alessandro Botturi (Yamaha WR450F).
The third Australian in the rally, Peter Caldwell, continues on despite struggling in some of the recent stages. He is 41st overall.
We’re now getting towards the end of the rally with just 3 stages remaining. The 10th stage is a 600km day ending in Idini and has the longest special of the event – 400km.
There will be plenty of sand and dune crossings in the first half of the special, but rally organisers say that the last half will be fast with little navigation just big turns between the small dunes.
- #175 – Andrew Houlihan
- #176 – Pablo Guillen
- #102 – Matt Sutherland
- #136 – Peter Caldwell
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