The Africa Eco Race is intended to be an independent alternative to the Dakar Rally following the latter’s move to South America in 2009, taking place on the legendary route that starts in Western Europe and ends in Dakar, Senegal. As an “alternative”, however, it is not sanctioned by the FIA like the Dakar, which prompted FIA member clubs to hastily scramble to warn their drivers about the dangers of entering an event without the sanctioning body’s oversight.
Fortunately, a Christmas miracle took place as the Fédération Sénégalaise de Sport Automobile et Motocycliste, the FIA national sporting authority (ASN) for Senegal, registered the race with the FIA a week before it began with support from Morocco’s Fédération Royale Marocaine des Sports automobiles and Mauritania’s Fédération Mauritanienne des Sports Mécaniques. Morocco and Mauritania are also hosting legs of the route. This does not mean the FIA has taken over sanction, but it allows the ASNs of other countries to provide resources and support to drivers from their respective countries who are entering.
Had FIA recognition not been given, the race would fall under Article 2.1.5 of the Internatonal Sporting Code which states, “Any Competition or proposed Competition not organised in conformity with the Code or with the rules of the appropriate ASN shall be considered as not being recognised. If such a Competition is included in an Event for which an Organising Permit has been granted, the Organising Permit shall be null and void. Such a Competition may in no way serve to qualify Competitors to take part in a Championship, cup, trophy, challenge or series validly registered on the calendar of an ASN or on the International Sporting Calendar.”
On an individual level, drivers entering unrecognised races anyway risk being deemed violators of the ISC’s Article 9.10.1 stipulating “any licence‐holder participating in an unrecognised Competition may be subject to the sanctions provided for in the Code.” ASNs like Motorsport UK warned they will enforce all penalties while the Federación Chilena de Automovilismo Deportivo stated they would not issue permits, though the latter did not necessarily threaten discipline and instead urged racers to be aware of the risks that it brings.
While the AER is not under the FIA’s hard jurisdiction, drivers regardless of nationality are still expected to comply with the FSAM’s regulations.
The 2024 Africa Eco Race begins in Monaco on Saturday and finishes on 14 January in Dakar.