Dakar: Team De Rooy preview

The organizers of Dakar 2006 managed it again to find a new starting place and again it's not Paris. While last year the Catalonian Capital Barcelona attracted a spectacular opening of the most prestigious rally in the world; this time the honour...

The organizers of Dakar 2006 managed it again to find a new starting place and again it's not Paris. While last year the Catalonian Capital Barcelona attracted a spectacular opening of the most prestigious rally in the world; this time the honour is conferred upon Lisbon, the Portuguese Capital.

The administrative checks and scrutineering will take place at the Cultural Centre of Belem on 28th, 29th and 30th December, 2005; the Parc Ferme is situated in front of the Jeronimo Monastery whereupon the competitors will move their vehicles to the Parc Ferme at Portimao in the Algarve.

The starting shot will be given in Lisbon on 31st December, followed by the first Special. The second Special will be on 1st January as well as the crossing to Africa where the real adventure starts.

Successively the route goes to Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea (where the convoy returns for the first time since 1996) and ends in Senegal.

On 15th January, the exhausted caravan will invade the shores of the Lac Rose near Dakar, faithful to tradition.

This time the rest day is planned on Sunday, 8th January in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

In Morocco and Mauritania, the competitors can expect all kind of grounds, with a lot of sand and stones going over to huge sand dunes. In Mali, Guinea and Senegal, so in darkest Africa, it's the turn of the tropical areas. The vegetation increases and it's sometimes a real challenge, especially to the trucks. But for everyone goes: a bad navigation will be the coup de grace for a good result.

The problems will all be over in Senegal. The competitors will hanker for a real bed and a shower. The rally attracts a lot of popularity. The entries for the motorbikes closed already on 1st June as the maximum number of competitors was reached already; over 350 applications for 230 places. 33% of the entries came from France; the Netherlands took a third place with 13%.

For the first time in history all entries were closed the beginning of July. The number of 180 cars and 75 trucks for this 29th edition had been reached. Next to this 240 assistance vehicles were registered. 785 Vehicles, including 485 competing in the rally. This means about 1700 competitors who want to defy the African secrets. Among them about 50 Dutch entries. The mass entry adds lustre to the creed of the father of the rally, Thierry Sabine: "a challenge for those who compete, a dream for those who don't".

New for the competitors is the abolition of the satellite telephones and the mandatory use of IriTrack, a system that enables real-time monitoring of positions and tracking of competitors. In case of major problems the organization will be informed immediately.

The GPS works immediately and communication through the IriTrack system is directly possible, so also the telephone function falls within the IriTrack system.

Also the Sentinel system is new. It's a safety horn made to help vehicles overtake motorcycles and slower moving vehicles. The vehicle in front is warned by a buzzer and a flashlight and can answer the following vehicle that it's safe to pass.

In order to intensify the safety during the Specials, the maximum speed during the race is now fixed at 150 kph for trucks and motorbikes; the maximum speed in the villages is set at 50 kph. Like last year, the organisation will keep a close watch of this.

This year, the start of a few legs will be in reverse order. This means that competitors that arrived last will start first the next day in order to push back driving at night. Obviously this only goes on tracks with enough space to overtake. Whether the stars will be very happy with it remains to be seen. During these legs they have to deal more often with the amateurs.

-derooy-

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Series Dakar