MD Rallye’s Optimus buggy once again proved it is the car to beat when it soared to victory at the tough Africa Eco Race. Named after a toy transformer car, and designed exclusively for endurance rallies, the Optimus buggy was piloted to the top step of the podium by Philippe Gosselin and Christophe Crespo racing for the Les Fous Du Volant team.
Despite an unplanned repair during the fourth stage, when the French Optimus drivers had to change a shaft on their buggy only 130km from the end, they still managed to win the stage with a comfortable 9min 43second lead over their rivals. Their pace continued unabated to the very end.
The Africa Eco Race, which is supported by Motul, aims to recapture the adventure, spirit and challenge of the original Paris-Dakar Rally. This year, more than 80 vehicles entered the race, with 30 different nationalities represented.
6,000kms, 14 days and 80 vehicles
The 14th edition of the race finished in the city of Dakar in Senegal, with the competitors setting off from Monaco by boat before arriving in Nador, Morocco, for the race start. The race is then split into a series of times stages over 14 days, 6,000 kilometres and passes through Mauritania and the Sahara Desert. The next edition of the Africa Eco Race will take place from 11-26 March 2023.
Keep the faith
The Optimus buggy was the brainchild of Antoine Morel and conceived to conquer demanding off-road rallies. He recalls how the idea came to him: “I’ve been in the Dakar since the 1990s. I started as a mechanic, participating in my first Dakar in 1998 on a motorcycle and later on with quad bikes on which I won the event as well. I wanted to build a buggy, so I phoned Jean-Louis Schlesser and told him I was going to build one powered by a two-litre naturally aspirated Honda engine. He said it wouldn’t work. I hung up and did it anyway.”
Chevrolet power, Motul lubrication
The Optimus is a T1 Dakar buggy, with a tubular chassis, carbonfibre body, powered by a Chevrolet V8 and lubricated by the full range of Motul products. Morel said of his relationship with Motul: “I’ve been using Motul since the beginning of my Dakar career. There has always been Motul in my machine whether it was a bike, quad, car or buggy. Even though sometimes it had a different brand’s sticker on the side.”