Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Feryn Dakar Sport opts for 2024 Africa Eco Race over Dakar

Feryn Dakar Sport was not a happy team in late 2022 when their Toyota Land Cruisers entering the 2023 Dakar Rally were turned away by the FIA after failing scrutineering. So much so, in fact, that they have no intention of trying the race again in 2024 as they will instead run the Africa Eco Race to start the year.

Koen Wauters and Tom de Leeuw were supposed to race the #257 and #268 Land Cruisers in the 2023 Dakar Rally’s T2 category, where they would have been the only other team besides Toyota Auto Body, but the FIA ruled their vehicles’ rollcages did not meet regulation. Feryn protested the verdict as Dakar organiser Amaury Sport Organisation had approved the cars in pre-inspection a month prior, and claimed they were given just forty-eight hours to rectify any issues only to be rejected again. The team eventually withdrew the #706 Land Cruiser of Nicola Feryn that was going to run the Dakar Classic out of solidarity with its barred allies.

“The good weather is approaching, but we at Feryn already have our heads in winter again,” begins a team statement. “We have decided not to go to the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia because we have no business there anymore. We have entered the Africa Eco Race in January 2024. Two cars – a Toyota Land Cruiser 100 and 200 – and our (Mercedes 2635) truck that won last year’s Dakar Classic will soon be driving through the beautiful deserts of North and West Africa again. On 31 December 2023, we will be at the start in Monaco. We will once again be able to fully celebrate the New Year in the rally atmosphere. And we finish in Dakar, the city where the desert rally belongs!”

The Africa Eco Race usually takes place in March, but the 2023 edition was pushed to January due to severe flooding at the finish line in Dakar, Senegal. While the 2024 Dakar Rally’s specific dates have not been confirmed, it is traditionally held in the first half of January and therefore comes into conflict with the AER. The ASO is considering a stretch of 6–19 January, while the AER is set to begin on 30 December and run through 14 January. Feryn had planned to race the 2023 AER prior to the postponement.

The AER models itself as taking up the mantle previously established by the Dakar Rally when the latter raced from Europe to Dakar. Said route was dropped in 2008 for safety reasons and the Rally, despite no longer actually going through Dakar, is now held in Saudi Arabia.

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