The route of the Dakar 2005
Gauloises Team Presentation
After three years during which the event started off in France, the competitors taking part in the rally will this year launch their bids for sporting immortality from Barcelona, at the heart of Catalonia! Thus for the fourth time in its history after the starts in Granada in 1995, 1996 and 1999, the Dakar will begin in Spain.
Barcelona's inhabitants will have the opportunity to celebrate the victory of Catalonia's home-grown champion, Nani Roma, who will open the 27th Dakar rally sporting the number 1 ensign. And Spain, which has for years been closely involved with the Dakar rally, will renew its great love affair with the event. Barcelona is likely to provide an unforgettable reception for the world's greatest motoring rally. Memories of the rally's passage through the city in 1987 and 1989, when a million people turned out to watch the drivers race through its streets will further deepen the emotion of Barcelona's renewed connection with the Dakar rally.
GAULOISES SCHLESSER FORD
JEAN LOUIS SCHLESSER N°300
JOSEP MARIA SERVIA N°301
Twice winner of the Dakar (1999 -- 2000), Jean-Louis Schlesser, who will be driving an evolution of his Ford powered buggy, has once again set his sights on overall victory in the car class. Ably assisted by Josep-Maria Servia, who will be driving a 'classic' Schlesser-Ford, the constructor-driver is impatient to fight it out with the factory teams.
GAULOISES MERCEDES GROINE
JEAN PIERRE STRUGO N°322
SIMON JEAN JOSEPH N°323
Team Mercedes Groine has reinforced its line up by recruiting Simon Jean-Joseph to its ranks. The 2004 European Rally champion will make his African rallye-raid debut alongside a similarly Mercedes ML equipped JP Strugo. The Martinique driver's ambition - to make it all the way to Lac Rose and gain as much experience as possible in the process.
CYRIL DESPRES N°2
JEAN BRUCY N°9
FABRIZIO MEONI N°4
ALFIE COX N°3
After the tragic death of Richard Sainct, the Gauloises KTM team has been rebuilt around Cyril Despres, who will benefit from the support of Meoni, Brucy and Cox in his attempt to take his first Dakar victory.
GAULOISES DE ROOY
JAN DE ROOY N°521
GERARDUS DE ROOY N°516
With technical assistance of the DAF factory, Jan De Rooy and his son Gerard fully intend to reach the capital of Senegal as winners of the truck class. Not an easy task when you take into account the strong opposition of the Russian Kamaz and Polish Tatra teams.
2005 Dakar Rally attracts record interest
The 2005 Dakar Rally - the annual African adventure which attracts experts and the occasional B-list celebrity alike - starts on Friday with its popularity as high as the skies over its Sahara desert route.
A diverse and exotic mechanised caravan of 700 cars, motorbikes and trucks set out Saturday from Barcelona on a 9,000 kilometre safari through five countries before its January 16 climax in the Senegal capital of Dakar.
The size of the field - over 20 percent up on last year - augurs well for an event that saw interest drop away as fast as a mirage in the desert in the mid 1990s. "The Dakar has never been so much in vogue," beamed race director Etienne Lavigne. "It's the first time we've ever had to close the entry books so early."
Looking back on the race's chequered fortunes Lavigne added: "We had the pioneering years, then the show-biz years, the low point between 1993 and 1995, then Hubert Auriol worked really hard to modernise the race and his efforts can still be seen today."
Stephane Peterhansel, France's six-time motorbike champion who took the four- wheel title in 2003, is favourite to defend his title and secure constructors Mitsubishi a tenth crown.
The Dakar's international appeal is emphasised by the presence of competitors from 39 different nations - almost double the number from two years ago.