Well look at this—Aprilia is back in the business of winning rallies! More than a decade after leaving desert racing (Aprilia had a rally raid team in 2010-2012), the new team, formed for the 2024 Africa Eco Race, won the first day of actual racing. Jacopo Cerutti took the win in Morocco’s first stage, followed by Alessandro Botturi, and Pol Tarres in third (they were both on Yamaha’s T7 racebike).

Despite the excitement of the start of actual timed racing, things were saddened today by the passing of legendary race driver RenĂ© Metge, one of the key figures in the founding of the African race (after winning multiple Dakar titles). The Eco Race organizers said “A key figure in Cross-Country Rallies since the discipline’s inception, he was one of the founding pillars of this great African Rally. But beyond that, he was the patriarch of our great AFRICA ECO RACE family. RenĂ© was 82 years old. This exceptional driver and immense organizer has given his last timing card. He will leave a great void in the world of motor sports and in our hearts. The final gesture of this big-hearted man, for whom friendship was stronger than anything, was to ask to be buried after the finish of the Rally.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of info on the Eco Race, as far as daily finishing stats, so we’ll share what we can with you—the organizers’ official report (below) and YouTube update (above).


It was 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 2nd 2024, when the first vehicle in the AFRICA ECO RACE caravan touched down on the quayside of the port of Nador in northern Morocco.

Once the administrative formalities had been completed, the first motorcycle set off on the 185 km route to the start line not far from Debdou, almost 1h30 behind schedule.

The program included a rather rolling special stage with frequent changes of direction, and in the end, 173 km swallowed up in 01:54:09 by the APRILIA Touareg 660 of Italian Jacopo CERUTTI. A superb performance for the Italian brand’s return to offroad rallies, ahead of the two YAMAHA TĂ©nĂ©rĂ© 700s of Alessandro BOTTURI and Pol TARRES, at 00:01:47, but separated by just 3 seconds.

A particular performance of the French-Moroccan Guillaume BORNE, who placed his HUSQVARNA 450 in 4th position ahead of the HONDA 450 of Italian Giovanni GRITTI, who rounded off the top 5. Behind him, Swiss rider Alexandre VAUDAN also made a name for himself on his KTM, finishing just 12 minutes ahead of Frenchman Attilio FERT, also on an Austrian machine. A bike from a manufacturer unaccustomed to being at the forefront of the discipline finished 8th. It was the HARLEY DAVIDSON 1250 of Spaniard Joan PEDRERO.

Rounding out the day’s top 10 were the BETA of Italian Andrea GAVA and the APRILIA of his compatriot Francesco MONTANARI.

On four wheels, following a technical problem, the timing team, the ERTF team in charge of GPS tracking and race management had to work through the night to define the times of each participant and produce the day’s final rankings.

In the end, Spaniards Carlos VENTO and Carlos RUIZ MORENO won their CAN AM for 00:03:11 ahead of the OLIVEIRA team, Rui and Bernardo. Another CAN AM rounded off the day’s podium with the Franco-German crew of Heatcliff ZINGRAF and Gregory REVEST. We had to drop down to 6th position to find the first car of the Belgians Koen WAUTERS and Kris VEN DER STEEN on a TOYOTA. Czech Tomas TOMECEK won the truck category, finishing 11th overall.

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