Car released and ready for start of 2010 Dakar

In four days the caravan will line-up for the start of the world's most gruelling test for man and machine, the 2010 Argentina Chile Dakar Rally. In that line-up will be South Africa's Dakar legend, Alfie Cox, and his German co-pilot and team-owner of PS Laser Racing, Jurgen Schroder. Cox left South Africa early yesterday, after spending Christmas with his family.

"Our car is very competitive, I have a lot of confidence that we can perform well this year. We saw last year that Navaras finished 4th and 5th, so I look forward to a great event," remarked Cox before his departure.

He continued: "Our car was released by the Argentine customs and is now checked through by the technical team. We are awaiting tyres from Overdrive, so everything is under control at the moment. We are very excited about this race. We share the T4 Overdrive Race Truck from Belgium with Krzysztof Holowczyc (Poland) who finished 5th last year, and Alexander Mironenko (Russia). Glyn Hall's technical team do our repairs and services at the overnight points and the rest day in Chile."

"We start in 28th place amongst the cars, which is not a problem, but it would have been very convenient to be higher up in the order on the first few days. The speeds will be high, the dust intense and the chance of making a mistake in the poor visibility, very good. I expect a very stressful first few days, but this is Dakar and we are ready for it. The race is divided into three sections, race up to the Atacama, the desert and the return from the Atacama. Secret is to build up a good position before we reach the desert, and that is why I expect a tough beginning," said Cox.

Other South Africans competing in the 32nd Dakar Rally are VW's Giniel de Villiers, who won the race last year, also co-piloted by a German, Dirk von Zitzewitz. The third South African, Ralph Pitchford is co-pilot for Mark Miller (USA) in another VW Touareg, they finished second overall last year.

Lots of changes are happening in the motorcycle category. KTM dominated the Dakar over the last few years with a slogan "The Desert is Orange". However, a number of KTM riders will line-up on the starting grid with their 690cc desert mothers, but they will have air intake restrictors limiting the power to these awesome machines. That should then equalise the output of the big machines with the new specification 450cc bikes which the organisers want as the new Dakar limit. As a result of the new rules, David Fretigne (France) on a 450cc Yamaha, finishing 3rd in last year's event will definitely be a favourite. Aprilla has started the production of a new 450cc desert machine for the Dakar, and BMW are building 450cc machines specifically suited for the event. Other manufacturers involved are: Honda, Husaberg and Husquavarna.

The skill, knowledge, navigation ability and endurance of the two former winners Marc Coma (Spain), and Cyril Despres (France) should outsmart the 450cc riders, but with the lower power, it will definitely be very exciting to see what is about to happen to the competition amongst the motorcycles.

With 28 quad entries the competition will inevitably be very fears, and one wonders, now that this is not an experimental class any longer, but an independent race class, what South African riders like Vicus van Deventer would have achieved if they still competed.Josef Machachek (Czechoslovakia) is definitely the favourite on a Yamaha.

Russia has dominated the T4 Truck category over the past few years, with the Kamaz trucks of Ferdaus Kabirov and Vladimir Chagin completely outdriving the opposition. Will the five days in the Atacama Desert, renowned to be the driest desert on the globe, again benefit these two teams, or can a Tatra, Ginaf, Man, Iveco, Mercedes, Renault or Hino surprisse everyone to take the top step of the podium this year?

With the racing fanatic crowds in Buenos Aries, Cox and Schroder are very excited about the event , starting on Friday (1 January 2010) and they look forward get out on the road once all the ceremonies are over. Tomorrow (29 December 2009) the display area opens for the public to come in and view the bikes, quads, cars, and trucks with all the workshop and support facilities.

Dakar 2010 is underway, nerves are starting to build, the excitement and adrenaline is mounting for the world's most demanding cross-country rally.

-credit: coen van zyl