It has been nearly three years since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and while most of the world has adapted to the “new normal”, the motorsport sector has continued to feel its rippling effects.
From the production line to annual trade events, the industry is still struggling to return to the “old normal”. And now the industry faces a new challenge, climate change.
For 2023, the Africa Eco Race (AER) rally hoped to revert back to its traditional timeslot of March 14–26, despite the 2022 edition of the race wrapping up in October, less than six months ago.
Instead, organisers have opted to push the race to January 2024, with series officials offering an explanation in a written statement on January 21, this year.
“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 “’s Toughest Race” lived up to its reputation this year as torrential rains battered the Saudi Arabian region, forcing officials to prematurely conclude this year’s third stage.
Online motorsport news platform RideApart reported at the beginning of the year that as a result of worsening weather conditions, “Dakar Rally organisers stopped motorcycle riders at Checkpoint 2 (335 km) and Checkpoint 3 (377 km). Soon after, the competition announced that it would halt car and truck categories at Checkpoint 3 (km 377) as well”.
According to AER’s latest statement, it strives to avoid a similar fate by postponing the 2023 instalment.
“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 metres on its banks,” the organisation added.
The Africa Eco Race was created in 2008 thanks to the combined experience of two men, Jean-Louis Schlesser and René Metge, but also thanks to the close collaboration of Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal.