Dakar: Orlen Team preview

At the start of the legendary Dakar 2005 Rally Poland will be represented by Orlen Team, featuring the motorcycle riders Jacek Czachor (World Vice Champion of 2004) and Marek Dabrowski (World 2nd Vice Champion of 2004) and the car team -...

At the start of the legendary Dakar 2005 Rally Poland will be represented by Orlen Team, featuring the motorcycle riders Jacek Czachor (World Vice Champion of 2004) and Marek Dabrowski (World 2nd Vice Champion of 2004) and the car team - Krzysztof Holowczyc (European Champion of 1997) and Jean-Marc Fortin (pilot) in the silver-red Mitsubishi Pajero.

In the 2004 season the Orlen Team achieved great success. Jacek Czachor became the World Vice Champion and Marek Dabrowski - 2nd Vice Champion in Long-Distance Rallies category. Czachor and Dabrowski confirm their position as the leaders every year, by reaching higher and higher places in the FIM World Championship classification. It's important thing to remember that Marek Dabrowski is the World Vice Champion of 2003 and 2nd World Vice Champion of 2002. He's also a second Pole, who finished the Dakar Rally story, reaching the top ten. Jacek Czachor, the Captain of Orlen Team is the first polish motorcycle rider who, in 2002, finished Dakar Rally. In 2004 he finished the rally at the perfect 10th position,in the same season he also reached for the highest trophy in his sport career - the World Vice Champion's title. Dakar 2005 is the biggest challenge for Orlen Team.

"My aim for the forthcoming Dakar Rally is to improve my last season's result. It won't be easy because the rally is very strong appointed this year. The entries for the motorcycle category were closed in August. Last year many competitors, as e.g. Fabrizio Meoni, said that this was the final rally in their career. And now we can see their names on the list again. This is the specificity of this competition - after three weeks you hate desert and promise to yourself that this is the last time, but after a short break you start missing it. The organizers granted us numbers 10 and 11. Every place above 10th will be our success. But I have to say that Marek is in his best form, he is much faster than me and still getting better in navigation." - said the Orlen Team's Captain Jacek Czachor.

27th edition of Dakar, the world's most famous and spectacular rally, called "murderous marathon" will start as usual in the New Year's Eve night, at 31st December in Barcelona, and will end at 16th January in Dakar. The route will be 8 956 km long, including 5 431 km of special stages. The rally caravan will travel across five countries, starting in Spain, then through Morocco, Mauretania, Mali and Senegal. The longest stage is about 919 km long and the longest special stage will be 660 km long.

"A challenge for those who go, a dream for those, who remain behid" - said Thierry Sabine, Frenchman, who invented and organized this most famous desert marathon 27 years ago.

This year The Rally is a challenge for the biggest number of competitors. Among them we can find one of the best known polish rally drivers, former Europe Champion, nowadays member of the Orlen Team, Krzysztof Holowczyc. He says: "This rally is going to be great but also very difficult expedition. With every day closer to the beginning, I feel more respect of Dakar and I have growing awareness of this big challenge. My aim is to win Dakar but I know that it may be impossible at the first time. This is the hardest rally of the world, requiring not only a lot of experience but also durability of both - men and equipment. I have a plan for three years. This year I would like to finish Dakar as close to the top-ten as it's possible, in the next season to be in this ten and finally - fight for the ultimate victory" - Holowczyc adds.

There are 233 motorcycles, 166 cars, 69 trucks and 227 assistance vehicles on the list. It's a record: 695 names from 39 countries have been registered.

"I'm counting back the days to the start - says Marek Dabrowski - the break in last year was like a nightmare for me. Watching the competition in TV is not for me. I feel that I'm in a really good form. Despite of injuries I managet to achieve the World Vice Champion title. In Dakar I want to fight for the possibly highest position, but I have a lot of humility for the desert - everything can happen during the competition. My basic target is to take a better place than 9th" adds Marek.

Dakar attracts brave souls for years. There are 26 women among the competitors of this hardest rally in the world, including Jutta Kleinschmidt, the winner of the rally in 2001. There are also 16 former winners in various categories, e.g. as famous ones as Ari Vatanen, Juha Kankkunen, Stephane Peterhansel, Edi Orioli, Hiroshi Masuoka. In the group of competitors we can find not only the winners but also many other celebrities: World Rally Champion Collin McRae, Europe Champion Simon Jean-Joseph, famous skiers: Luc Alphand and World Free-Style Champion Guerlain Chicherit. The rally cast guarantees the highest level of sport emotions.

"I'll show you the gate, the great adventure is waiting behind. But it's only your choice, if you want to pass it" - said Thierry Sabine at the start of first edition of Dakar in 1978. Now, in the 27th edition of this prestigious event these words are still important. The motto of the race are still three words: tradition, survival, adventure.

"Who's gonna win this time? Man, machine, or the desert?"

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Series DAKAR