Michelle Bachelet visits the bivouac in Antofagasta On the rest day in Antofagasta, the Dakar welcomed the President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. Accompanied by Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of A.S.O. and Etienne Lavigne, Race ...
Michelle Bachelet visits the bivouac in Antofagasta
On the rest day in Antofagasta, the Dakar welcomed the President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. Accompanied by Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of A.S.O. and Etienne Lavigne, Race Director, the President visited the bivouac then reiterated her attachment to the presence of the Dakar in Chile.
The bivouac holds no secrets for Michelle Bachelet. Followed by a horde of photographers and cameramen, she criss-crossed the rows of the camp at Antofagasta after having first given a long accolade to Carlo de Gavardo, an unlucky competitor on this edition. Chilean rider Francisco Lopez acted as her guide. Heading towards the Aprilia tent, the Presidential delegation saw two members of the BMW - X-Raid team coming towards them. Stephane Peterhansel, with whom she spoke in English, told her about the "incredible spectacle of the final descent to Iquique". "For a simple mortal, it is true that it is inspiring", replied Michelle Bachelet before enquiring about Nani Roma's spirits. Though interested in the bike on which Francisco Lopez won the first stage at Antofagasta, in the end the President spent the most time at the Gasco team's stand. Jose Miguel Melo, driver of one of the team's two cars, waxed lyrical about the advantages of the car's hybrid gas/petrol engine. "That is very good. Continuing down this road is important", was her reply.
Some 500 metres from the bivouac, on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Gateway of Antofagasta, this stone arch jutting out from the waves and a symbol of the city, a canvas structure played host to the official speeches. Etienne Lavigne once again voiced the race organisers' thanks for the country welcoming the event as part of the national celebrations to commemorate the bicentenary of Chile's independence. The Dakar Director also made a point of indicating his satisfaction for the collaboration between the Dakar and the heritage authorities concerning the highlighting and preservation of several zones of archaeological interest. Next, Michelle Bachelet gave a speech in which support of the event was the predominant philosphy. "I would especially like to pay tribute to the Italian rider Luca Manca. Before his accident, there was an instant where he showed wonderful solidarity to another competitor. I would like to send him our best wishes and strongest thoughts, as well as to all the other injured competitors". The President finished her speech with the importance of the Dakar for her nation: "We need competitions like this. The Dakar has put the spotlight on Chile, its population and our organisational abilities". Her visit was rounded off with the presentation of a cheque for the sum of 112,000 dollars to the association 'Un Techo para mi pais' by Etienne Lavigne on behalf of the Dakar.