Waldschmidt Eyes Africa Eco Rally

Renowned Namibian off road rider Ingo Waldschmidt is gearing up for one final foray into international racing.

Waldschmidt has been scouting for sponsorship to enable him to compete in the Africa Eco Race, an event loosely referred to as the ‘The Real Race To Dakar’.

Africa Eco Race is a French organisation running old Dakar Rally routes in north Africa on a much smaller scale than the Dakar, but making use of the same infrastructure as the Dakar in South America.

The event presents Waldschmidt the closest opportunity to riding in the Dakar in its original setting.

“Most of you will remember December 2008, when my first Africa Dakar attempt was ruined with the cancellation of the event. I was devastated, disappointed and actually very angry that I never got to ride,” Waldschmidt said.

“What impresses me the most of this race is that everybody gets treated the same ‘old way’, the way Dakar in Africa used to be. All the competitors still sleep in tents, and rough it for two weeks. One is cut off from civilisation a little and camaraderie among riders still exists. This race takes me through Africa, the continent I live in and ends at the Lac Rose in Dakar. That is just awesome in my eyes,” he added.

The race, covering a distance of just over 6 500km, is held over two weeks with a rest day in between and sleeping in bivouacs.

The competitors will use the same navigation instruments and safety regulations as used in the South American Dakar.

“It is way cheaper to compete. It is mostly just amateurs, like myself, that take part in this race. As riders, one can enjoy long special stages and very short liaisons,” said Waldschmidt, whose cargo will be transported to Europe and back for free by Air Namibia.

Waldschmidt’s list of sponsors includes media houses Allgemeine Zeitung, Republikein, The Namibian Sun, Hit Radio Namibia and Radio Wave.

The Sign Shop have also confirmed their involvement in the racer’s upcoming aenture.

“I am so overwhelmed that I am lost for words. With Colweld and Square Cafeacute taking over some very large financial hurdles, my life was made so much easier with having the flights and cargo sorted out.

Waldschmidt, who will race on his 450 Rally, will have his trusted mechanic and buddy Jan Hut along for the Africa Eco aenture.

“I refuse to do a rally without Jan. Before I even gave the Africa Eco Race any serious thought, I first spoke to Jan and asked him if he would come with me. Not a lot of convincing needed to be done, Jan was on board in a matter of seconds,” he enthused.

“Closer to the Africa Eco Race I will want to do some special navigation training with my good friend Tom Flemming again. Que Vardis is backing me again with that special wisdom, that only Tom can help with.

“It always takes a while to get back into the swing of things when one has to self-navigate and I don’t like doing it at a rally because you lose a lot of time because you keep on doubting yourself. You keep on thinking that you are going the wrong way.

“I have the terrain, a couple of road books and a practise GPS to practise with but we will wait until summer is back before we hit the desert,” said Waldschmidt.

“We had an enduro three weeks ago that was rather tough on man and machine. I noticed that I am not right there where I want to be with my fitness, but we are working on it,” he added.

“My training is going well but I need to increase from twice a week to three times a week, but time does not always allow it. Especially with winter and then the time change, one tends to get lazy.”

Source : The Namibian