On Monday, pro-Polisario online newspaper Futuro Sahara reported that drivers participating to the 11th edition of the Africa Eco Race, linking Monaco to Dakar (Senegal), were unable to make it through Mauritania.
Quoting a Facebook post published by the race’s organizers, Futuro Sahara indicated that the annual competition had to annul one of its initial stages because of weather-related reasons. This stage, reportedly, is the sixth in the competition and links Dakhla to Timazine, a city located in northern Mauritania.
The same source wrote that some Sahrawi youngsters threatened to intervene and stop the race in Guerguerate, «protesting against the Moroccan government». Futuro Sahara, however, stressed that a source within the Tindouf Camps denied the Polisario alleged incursions in Gueguerate.
Drivers safely crossed Guerguerate
But what really happened in Guerguerate on Monday was different from the version of the story reported by the pro-Polisario newspaper. Speaking to Yabiladi on Monday, Thierry Scharff from the communication office of the Africa Eco Race stressed that crossing Guerguerate «went well».
Contacted on Tuesday, Scharff indicated that the organizers indeed cancelled one of the race’s stages but only after entering Mauritania through the Guerguerate border crossing.
«The only problem we encountered in Morocco was technical», said Scharff who added that Africa Eco Race’s «helicopters were left in Dakhla after they were banned from taking off due to some weather-related issues».
«These three helicopters could not join the drivers on Monday but they did on Tuesday and the race was resumed (…) Unfortunately, as you know, you cannot carry on the race without a helicopter».
Furthermore, Thierry Scharff stated that participants «crossed borders separating Morocco and Mauritania on Monday morning». «The next stage started when the Moroccan Customs allowed as to cross the border at 10am and everyone did that in good conditions», added the same source.
According to Scharff, drivers were ready to start the Mauritania stage, about ten kilometers away from Morocco, but at around 1:30pm organizers had to cancel that part of the race because of the helicopters problem above-mentioned.
«The only reason why we had to cancel that phase was because of the technical problem», argued Scharff, explaining that the «phase annulled was a special one, connecting Arzmeilat and Chami (two cities located in Mauritania) and not the initial route».
For the record, the 11th edition of the Africa Eco Race kicked off on December the 30th in Monaco. Participants drove through Morocco in six stages. The last one linked Dakhla and Guerguerate to Mauritania.