French winemaker prepares for the south american dakar
Winemaker Francois Lurton, is driving for the first time in the Dakar Rally Raid, to take place in Argentina and Chile for the second time this year. Fifth generation of the Bordeaux Lurton wine dynasty visiting in the early nineties, he was one of the very early foreigners to recognise the potential of the terroir for producing top wines. He owns two estates in South America , one in Vista Flores in Argentina's Mendoza and another Hacienda Araucano in the Colchagua in Chile.
"Racing in the Dakar has been a dream of mine since I was a young boy. There was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to drive close-by to my vineyards and wineries in Argentina and Chile, two countries I have come to love over the past fifteen years and that have become my second homes. When I first came here in 1992 I recognised the potential of the land for winegrowing eventhough the area at the time was nothing more than a desert"
This gruelling off-road rally covers over 10,000 kilometres crossing dunes and rocky terrain, including this year several days in the hottest desert in the world, the Atacamba in Northern Chile. The race takes place over fourteen days with stages of different lengths depending on the terrain.
Amateur Francois Lurton and his co-pilot, head oenologist Guillaume Martineau, have undertaken a rigorous training schedule to be on form to compete. In order to qualify it is necessary for all teams to compete in at least two international races. Amateur Francois Lurton has impressed rally enthusiasts by his success so far coming tenth most recently in the Burgos Baja Tierra del Cid 19 and 20 September in Northern Spain and first in their category of " Light Buggy ".
The Buggy itself is a prototype 2 wheel drive Audi V6 250 cv diesel engine, similar to that of two time winner Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser.
2010 sees the Bicentenary of the Independence of Argentina and Chile. The Dakar will have the honour of opening these celebrations in Buenos Aires on January 1st 2010.