The 2023 Africa Eco Race might have been pushed to 2024, but race officials hope to maintain a presence during the ongoing calendar year. On Monday, the AER announced new partnership with the Carta Rallye, which is scheduled for 12–18 March.
Set for its seventh edition, the Carta Rallye is held in Morocco. The 2023 race is seven stages long and starts from the Plage Blanche near Guelmim before heading north towards the finish in Merzouga. Although the Eco Race is twice as long, its route also runs through Morocco, albeit in the opposite direction across (disputed) Western Sahara and into Senegal. Had it taken place, the AER would have clashed with the Carta Rallye thanks to its original dates of 11–26 March.
The Carta Rallye has been overseen by Chris Armelin since the inaugural running in 2014. Race director Sébastien Delaunay recently ran the Dakar Rally in early January as co-driver to Erik van Loon.
“Following the postponing of its 15th edition, the AFRICA ECO RACE wanted to offer an alternative to its competitors,” announced the Eco Race. “Thus, a natural collaboration was set up with the CARTA Rally for its 7th edition. This event, open to all categories, shares many common values with the AFRICA ECO RACE and takes place on similar dates, from 12 to 18 March 2023 between Guelmim and the dunes of Merzouga.”
As part of the partnership, competitors who were set to run the Eco Race are encouraged to sign up for the Carta Rallye. The rally is an amateur event open to all vehicles, and are separated into the Cross Country (a traditional time-based rally raid) and GPS Cup (navigation-based, much like the Dakar Classic). Serge Mogno, winner of the 2022 Dakar Classic and fifth-place finisher in 2023, is among those set to take part as is Eco Race regular Stefano Rossi, who will race a Nissan Patrol with a new hydrogen-based hybrid system.
The Carta Rallye released its own statement that says, “Africa Eco Race, thank you for your trust! We will do everything to give your competitors an unforgettable week in true rally raid spirit!”
Due to the delay, the Eco Race will take place from 30 December to 14 January 2024. The move was spurred by financial reasons and concerns about the weather in Senegal.