Dakar: Face to Face, day three

Face to Face January 2, 2006 moto: "A highly determined woman" No. 245: Emmanuelle Jannon "What a start!" Emmanuelle Jannon would doubtless have preferred to kick off her first participation in the Euromilhoes-Lisbon-Dakar in less ...

Face to Face
January 2, 2006

moto: "A highly determined woman"
No. 245: Emmanuelle Jannon

"What a start!" Emmanuelle Jannon would doubtless have preferred to kick off her first participation in the Euromilhoes-Lisbon-Dakar in less dramatic fashion. For after 33 kilometers of the first special, the 29-year-old quad biker fell foul of a hole filled with water. Thrown from her seat, the Dior perfumes website manager fortunately emerged from the accident unscathed, but the same cannot be said for her Bombardier 650.

"When I picked myself up, I saw my bike upside down in the water! As there weren't hardly any competitors left behind me, I had to get it back on its wheels on my own, which took some doing. And as the whole bike was soaked, it kept shorting throughout the rest of the special. I really was afraid I wouldn't reach the finish! It all turned out ok in the end, as I can carry on, although I will incur some penalties. But that doesn't matter, as my aim is to get to the end, not to achieve a particular result. In order to do that, the most important thing is to find the right pace during this first stage, which I still managed to do. All things considered, it was a good start to the race, although a bit more eventful than I would have liked!"

But it will take more than this mishap to dishearten this highly determined woman who, ever since her father placed her on a mini-bike at the age of five, has tried her hand at all the bike disciplines, from speed to cross, The only one missing from her CV was all-terrain, but now she has done that too. But Emmanuelle is not doing it the easy way, as she is the only woman this year to enter the Dakar's notoriously tough quad category. "When I did the Rallye des Gazelles 2004 in a car, I was really envious of the quad bikers, who seemed to be surfing over the dunes. So the next year, I entered in that category, and as I came 2nd, I decided to try to realize my dream: to become the first woman to complete the Dakar on a quad bike."

auto: Pere Maini Codina: the desert is his garden

With his serious voice and carefully chosen words, hands calloused from frequent fishing trips to the Cadaquès-region creeks, and the steely gaze of an adventurer, Pere Maini is a rare specimen. Based near Gerona, a stone's throw from the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava, this renowned mechanic has made his workshop a Mecca for local aficianados of motorized adventure. Having explored almost all corners of Africa, he will be disputing his last Dakar in 2006. Or at least so he claims...

With more than a hint of nostalgia, this hard-as-nails Catalan looks back on his first participation in the rally back in 1982. One particular aspect of the third Dakar stands out in his memory: "I know that I'm a survivor of what I consider the golden era. Back then on the Dakar, it was just compass, no assistance and get going!" He bemoans what he sees as the erosion of this sense of adventure, but his sense of having been a pioneer back in the days of Thierry Sabine will surely be with him always.

That said, Pere Maini could scarcely be accused of living 20 years in the past. Since his first rally, he has visited Africa on around fifty separate occasions, twelve times for the Dakar but also on an array of other adventures. This great character has installed cold storage rooms in Benin, been a tourist guide in Senegal and spent four years working on humanitarian convoys for the Catalan NGO Metges sin Fronteras. "I just love Africa and the sense of adventure it gives me," he explains. "Without uncertainty and difficulties, there's no interest." This tireless traveler returned home last years after ten years' absence. When his pal Baldiri Olive Ribe wanted to introduce his two sons to the Dakar, they suddenly found themselves made co-drivers. The two cars had to drop out during Stage 7, but the fact that Pere Maini is back again in 2006 after again having prepared the two vehicles himself is down to his intense dislike of failure. Consequently, he and his three sidekicks from last year are having another bash. While there's an element of the passing of the baton about this latest attempt, it is by no means certain to be Codina's last appearance in the Dakar. For in spite of his nostalgia for the good old days, it would be highly surprising if, given his great passion for the sport and for Africa, the call of the desert was to fall on deaf ears at his Llambilles home.

-aso-

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Series Dakar