Dakar: Nissan Dessoude preview

Team Dessoude celebrates its 25th Dakar with fine ambitions .... A special race for André Dessoude. With twenty-five Dakar races to his credit, André Dessoude has real reason to feel satisfied. Such longevity in this area of the sport, most...

Team Dessoude celebrates its 25th Dakar with fine ambitions ....

A special race for André Dessoude.

With twenty-five Dakar races to his credit, André Dessoude has real reason to feel satisfied. Such longevity in this area of the sport, most particularly on the most legendary of rally-raid events, is ex c eptional, and one which few other competitors or team-managers can rival.

But far from showing pride in this achievement, André Dessoude, as passionate about the sport as the very first day, is humble, and thinking mainly about the future. " During the first editions of the Dakar, we did not think that there would be 25 of them... And then slowly, thanks to the drivers and the sponsors who have supported us through both good days and bad, we are now up to 25 participations ! We have achieved much over this quarter-century, but I've no intentions of stopping there. The flame is still burning brightly, and it is that passion which pushes us onwards. The passion of a whole team, and its wish to always do better. In such a system, no-one think s about counting the years, and, to be honest, it was the people I work with who mentioned that the Dakar 2007 would be the 25th. In such a context, I want to continue, of course for myself, but also for them. When the phone stops ringing, I think it will be time to stop, but I c an assure you that the phone in our Saint Lô office is still going strong !

My work is my passion, and I have never pushed myself to do it ; everything happened naturally. I don't make a habit of looking backwards, it's the future that interests me. And the immediate future is, of course, the 2007 edition of the Dakar.

Seven cars will be carrying the Team Dessoude logo, with talented driv ers and some great hopes. Leading the pack will be the two '05 Protos and the 03 Pickup, which can hope for good finishes, while in the T2 category we will be pushing to win. One of the two Proto vehicles will be driven by Yvan Muller and navigated by René Metge. This line-up, while possibly unexpected, will be very interesting. Yvan's inexperience on this sort of event will be more than compensated by René's experience. Yvan is a talented driver, and the precious advice from this two-time Dakar winner will allow him to gain plenty of time and avoid many mistakes. This combination should work. There will certainly be a big fight between Mitsubishi and Volkswagen, and looking at things clearly, we will not be able to get involved. Our aim will be to keep in contact with them. In Zouerat, before starting off on the main sand section, we will see how we are placed. We will plan a careful race, taking care to avoid all pressure.

The second Proto 05 will be driven by Miguel Barbosa. Miguel knows the car well, having driven it in the Portuguese championship this season. He should be able to put in a fine race, and has an excellent navigator. It is mainly a case of managing the race.

Someone who has learned all there is to know about race management is, of course, Christian Lavieille. Christian, who will be driving the Pickup 03, is what can be called a safe value. Moreover, it is very pleasant to work with such a driver. The 2006 T2 season, with his co-driver Arnaud Debron, was very beneficial.

Now working with François Borsotto, who has plenty of experience at a high level, they should form a competitive duo. The crew is serious and the car is reliable. We can hope for a good result. The fourth T1 car, a Pathfinder, will be in the hands of a young Portuguese driver, Madalena Antas.

Madalena is still a rookie in this area, but is very serious. She has done a number of tests with us and showed good potential, but her biggest task on this Dakar will be to learn how to manage her race. The Pathfinder is a 'traditional' car, compared to her previous experience, but it is very efficient. She will be able to count on an experienced co-driver in order to help her reach her objective : to finish the race.

In the T2 category, we will certainly be fighting for the lead. After an absence of around twelve years, Jean- Pierre Strugo will be back in the team, something we are very pleased about. Jean-Pierre is an incomparable tactician, who has claimed the Production World Cup on four occasions. He has to be one of the best teachers around in terms of race management... The Pathfinder has proved its abilities over the last few years, and I have high hopes of eventually winning this category. The second T2 Pathfinder will be in the hands of a Team Dessoude regular, Paul Belmondo. I hope that the bad luck which has followed Paul on the last two editions of the Dakar is well and truly behind him. Working alongside Jean-Pierre Strugo, they should be able to do some good work to lead the category.

The third T2 will be the Pathfinder driven by the ''girls', Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet. This will be something new for them, and will have to pay close attention to the advice handed out by the 'old hands' in order to face the race in the best possible conditions. Their main aim will not be the overall classification, but to reach the Rose Lake.

So that is the family photo for this 2007 edition of the Dakar... A photo including plenty of French drivers, something which pleases me greatly, and which will make communication within the team even easier.

Our technical partnership with ORECA is going very well in this preparation phase. Everyone is combining their knowledge, and we are making good progress. On the terrain, Hugues de Chaunac will provide two engineers and two mechanics who will work on the two Proto cars. Our team will include seven race vehicles, two T4 tracks as rapid assistance, four T5 6X6 trucks for spare parts and assistance, and two T5 Patrols. The total team effective will be nearly fifty people. We are trying to prepare a fine Dakar..."

Meet up with Team Dessoude in Lisbon on January 5th, for its 25th Dakar...

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Yvan Muller , René Metge , Paul Belmondo , Arnaud Debron , François Borsotto , Christian Lavieille , Jean-Pierre Strugo , Miguel Barbosa , Mélanie Suchet , André Dessoude , Hugues de Chaunac