IT ALL STARTS AT LA RURAL
The 32nd edition of the Dakar is already a reality for the first competitors, mainly North and South Americans, who underwent scrutineering. After these three days of gathering and formalities the riders and crews will get to grips with the first stage on New Year's Day.
It is a time for renewing acquaintances, telling tales of journeys and exciting events as well as speculating on how the race will unfold. The Dakar scrutineering is a grand pre-race meeting that always takes place in a relaxed atmosphere, underscored by the necessary amount of concentration to look ahead to the 14 days of racing as well as the 9,000 kilometres of roads, tracks and dunes that await the contestants. The competitors who discovered the Americas last year also renewed acquaintance with Buenos Aires. Many of them went to pick up their vehicles at Delta Dock, the port of landing located around one hundred kilometres from the Argentine capital. They then headed to the La Rural exhibition centre, which is playing host to technical and administrative scrutineering like in 2009... as well as the winners' ceremony in which everyone hopes to participate in a little more than two weeks' time.
Since scrutineering will be taking place over three days, the North and South American competitors were the first to be summoned. Many Argentineans and Chileans put their machines to the test, awaiting the verdict from the race stewards. Amongst them, Marcos Patronelli, 2nd in the quad category in 2009, represents a sound hope for victory from the land of the sky blue and white flag. For this first day, he can already lay claim to the title of winner in the competition for the most interviews and autographs. American Jonah Street, a stage winner last year, won the booby prize for having left his driving licence in his hotel on the other side of the city. Fortunately for him, this navigational error will not be costly this time...
In total, a hundred vehicles were admitted to the scrutineering enclosure, which they will leave on Friday to tackle the first stage. Whilst it was possible during this half-day at La Rural to bump into Cyril Despres and David Casteu, both on early reconnoitring visits, or to meet the entire BMW X-Raid team for a press conference, the leading lights of the discipline will be in attendance on Wednesday and Thursday. Already tomorrow, pretenders to the crown such as David Fretigne in the bike category or Robby Gordon in the car race are expected at the scrutineering circuit.