The race has not started, yet the first difficulties

Dec. 29 - With three days to go before the prologue in Clermont-Ferrand and the real start of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar rally, the first competitors have started massing on the parking lot of the Grande Halle d'Auvergne for the official technical and administrative scrutineering.

Yet for some, the rally comes to an end without even having started. France's Michel Point had indeed planned to become the first blind co-pilot to compete on a Dakar. Unfortunately, the French motorsport federation (FFSA) decided not to give Point the precious licence that allows competitors to start the rally. The project, that sounded unreal had however convinced the organisers, especially race director Patrick Zaniroli. "We've been working with him on a computer program for a long time. It allows him to have all the information from the road book in the same way as any other co-pilot but in Braille language. The project is technically feasable."

The FFSA, only authority allowed to give licences to official Dakar competitors decided that for security measures, it wasn't safe to let the Frenchman start. Just a few days before the first few kilometres of the 26th edition, Michel Point has decided to swap places with the co-pilot of his "A perte de vue" assistance vehicule.

Meanwhile, the other competitors had to go through a slight change in the usual Dakar schedule, with the first administrative scrutineering taking place on monday, three days before the prologue, allowing the upcoming technical inspections to go through in a smoother way. Under a 100 riders, drivers and co-pilots patiently went through all the different desks with passports, vehicule insurances, official FFSA licences and even the boat ticket to go from Algeciras to Tanger in Morocco.