Face to Face
The Dakar Magazine
January 4, 2005
Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind...
Jean - michel Piccini - Savoie Aventure - 391
Marc Avaizian: "I didn't have fun last year"
You've certainly already seen Jean-Michel Pizzini and Marc Avaizian. They were the ones in the limelight when their Toyota caught fire after a turbo break during the opening stage on the Barcelona beach. Fortunately, it was to be a problem without consequences for the remainder of their race, but not in the standings. Because of the time they took to extinguish the fire, repair and get out of this tricky stage, the n°391 crew arrived too late at the "parc fermé" and was given a time penalty. The first one !
The problems are far from over. As they couldn't repair before the start of the long liaison to Granada, they left the Catalan town in a huge cloud of white smoke. But once on the highway, co-driver Marc Avaizian realised that it was impossible to be on time in Granada without a turbo. And if they arrived late again, they would have another time penalty. So, they decided to stop and repair with the help of some local mechanics before restarting at high pace. But bad luck struck again at km 140 with another turbo failure. Impossible this time to repair as they wanted to be on time in Granada. In vain... When they arrived in the middle of the night in Granada, the "parc fermé" was closed, meaning a new time penalty. Used to not sleeping a lot due to his job as a baker, Marc Avaizian immediately began to change the turbo, while his driver Jean-Michel Pizzini, 64 years old, went to sleep. And a good rest was well needed to catch up all the lost time (10 hours) and their last place overall.
Actually, the story keeps on repeating for a team that everyone discovered last year when they brokedown together in the middle of the desert, but just in front of the TV crew. Despite this 'small' problem, they finished last year's race in 48th position for their first experience as a duo. Quite a performance after suffering mechanical problems during the whole race. "It's quite simple. Each day the car had a new mechanical problem, explains Jean-Michel Piccini. For example we brok the clutch in Clermont-Ferrand, then it was an engine problem, then the suspensions... It was so hard for us, that we didn't take any pleasure during the race. Both on a physical and mental point of view, we were exhausted when we finished. The race played with us, but we didn't play with the race. That's a shame.
And that's actually the whole paradox of their new adventure. After last year's experience, this former high-level gymnast wanted to have a more reliable car. "I didn't have fun last year, especially because of the poor reliability of the car. So, for this Dakar, we've really done all we could to have a high level car, very well prepared and with good reliability. And to be sure of that, I've prepared it myself. Because we wanted to do a good race".
A wish still possible, because everything has gone well since Rabat and Jean-Michel Pizzini and Marc Avaizian now hope to climb back in the standings. "We managed a good Tunisia rally, finishing 19th just ahead of Chabot-Pillot's car. That's very good, and I hope we still can to do the same in the Dakar. At least, if we don't have any more mechanical problems and penalty time!"