While much of the world has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic after nearly three years, its impact continues to ripple through the motorsport world. From the production line to annual trade events, the industry still struggles to return to the “old normal” after adjusting to the “new normal”. One such entity is the Africa Eco Race (AER).
For 2023, the rally hoped to revert back to its traditional timeslot. Despite the 2022 Africa Eco Race wrapping in October, 2022, the race series ambitiously set its sights on March 14-26, 2023. Instead, organizers will push the 15th edition of the AER to December 30, 2022, through January 14, 2024. Series officials offered an explanation in a written statement on Saturday, January 21, 2023.
“Indeed, like other sporting events, the current climatic upheavals are forcing us to rethink and adapt our human activities,” the statement noted. “Other races have also been hit hard at the beginning of 2023, like the one that has just ended in Saudi Arabia in harsh and unsatisfactory conditions.”
If you didn’t pick up on that passive-aggressive Dakar Rally reference, the World’s Toughest Race sure lived up to its billing this year. Torrential rains battered the Saudi Arabian region, forcing officials to prematurely conclude this year’s third stage. According to AER’s latest statement, it strives to avoid a similar fate by postponing the 2023 installment.
“As we are writing these lines, the mythical Lac Rose in Dakar, the finish line of our race, is in the grip of major flooding, with water levels rising by almost three meters on its banks,” the organization added.
The delay also grants officials more time to coordinate the 15th edition, as the original dates crammed two AERs in the span of six months. The 2023 Africa Eco Race route hasn't released yet, but the rally generally follows Thierry Sabine’s Paris-Dakar chapters. Last year, the 16-day race featured a 12-stage, 5,983-kilometer (3718-mile) route from Monaco to the shores of Senegal’s Lac Rose (Lake Retba).
Sources: Moto.it, Adventure Rider, Africa Eco Race