Tuthill Porsche Safari contender, Franz Wunderlich, will follow in the tyre tracks of the original Paris-Dakar rally when he takes part in the Sonangol Africa Eco Race, which kicks off over Christmas.
Starting in Morocco on December 29th, the rally runs through North Africa en route to Senegal and a finish in the capital on January 9th, following the vision of Dakar founder, Thierry Sabine. Competitors in the classic category run along the same rugged desert tracks as modern competitors, but avoid the worst of the car-claiming dunes.
Racers benefit from identical logistic and medical support to those in the grand event. Sonangol Africa Race Classic competitors also enjoy the bivouac with regular participants, so there is some relief from cabin fever at the end of a day.
Sporting Director for this epic desert rally is René Metge: the famous Porsche wheelsman who claimed Dakar victory in the 959. Taking last year as a model, René has no plans to dish out easy rides.
"Just looking at the maps, we knew the 2012 edition would be difficult, and it was. What we did not anticipate was the weather, especially in Mauritania, where the sandstorm began to blow before we arrived and stayed ten days. The Mauritanian desert was then totally changed.
"Although I know the route by heart, I saw that some places became invisible and many dunes appeared where a few weeks ago, there was nothing. This bad weather forced us to cancel one leg. After several days of stress everyone was very tired including vehicles. The cancellation of the special stage between Akjoujt and Tenadi allowed them to start on the last Mauritanian leg with energy.
"The 2012 edition was difficult, but I think we took the right option. Dense race, "serious" navigation and intense crossing but not too long. We tried to have a minimum of rocky terrain all along the way but in Morocco, for example, it is quite impossible to avoid any rocky area."
This event will be no cakewalk! We'll be doing our best to follow Franz and his adventures, so keep it here for more updates.