Thank you Qatar
Taking risks on the Dakar can actually pay off. A fanatical supporter of Nasser Al Attiyah and the rally in general, young Orlando managed to escape the watchful eye of the police to slip into the interview zone at Iquique and run towards his idol with a huge Qatar flag in his hand. "Nasser is a really prince of the rally world. I wanted to pay tribute to him. I also did it for my Dad. My old man is also a fan of Nasser". A wonderful moment which genuinely moved the Qatari driver who was quick to greet him and especially offer to invite him to Doha. After giving his telephone number to Nasser, Orlando still couldn't believe it. "It's a dream, I can't believe it. All I wanted was a photo, just a simple photo with him..."
Warning: 2 Patronellis can hide another
In the Patronelli clan, motorsports fans know all about Marcos, the winner of the 2010 Dakar, as well as Alejandro, his runner-up on last year's podium. But now, the aficionados will have to add Nello to the ranks of this talented family. He is the youngest of five siblings that include Gabriel, who is not particularly interested in motorsport, and Clara, who looks after the two champions' publicity affairs. As for Nello, he looks after everything else. When Marcos and Alejandro are taking part in competitions, he takes charge of the family business. Usually, he is 'merely' the designer of the famous Patronelli trailers and the manager of the warehouse. "I really like my work," he simply says. Does he like quads as much as his brothers? "Yes, of course! I've been riding since I was 7 years old, and I join in when my brothers go training". "In fact, he's the most skilful of us all," states Alejandro, the eldest brother. This remark does not go to Nello's head, though. This year, he is a member of the Patronelli team's assistance. "My brothers wanted someone who they were very close to, someone they could trust completely. That's important on an event like this". Having been joined in this work by Marcos, who finished his Dakar in San Salvador de Jujuy, Nello is not counting out anything for the future: "Yes, I'd like to try the Dakar. Three brothers on the starting line would be very thrilling. But for the moment, I'm happy like this. It's already difficult enough for our mother to know that two of us are on the tracks racing". In terms of sport, for the moment Nello is happy to play basketball for the Las Flores club, but that surely cannot last long...
Eliseo Salazar, a new start
Invited at the last minute to take part in this Dakar, Eliseo Salazar, with 24 F1 Grands Prix to his name as well as 7 participations in the Indianapolis 500 at the start of the 1980's, has experience a difficult start to his Dakar career at the wheel of the second vehicle in the Gordon team. The Chilean driver is not ready to forget the 3rd stage leading to San Salvador de Jujuy: "We lost a wheel and it took ages to repair". Trailing way back in the general standings, Eliseo merely put this down to a learning experience and clawed back positions to finish the first Chilean stage in 29th position and 54th in the general standings. At the bivouac in Calama, Salazar shared his impressions on this new situation: "We're no longer racing to win, but we're well set for occasional good performances on the various stages. The car is doing well and we are in the rythym of the rally. That will continue to be our objective, with, as far as the general standings are concerned, a good possibility of finishing in the Top 20". History will record that Eliseo Salazar wrestled back control of his destiny in his first Dakar as his two-wheel drive Hummer entered his home country: "After the special, we wanted to wash the car, so we stopped at a service station. And do you know what? They decided to close to devote themselves to looking after us". As a result, Eliseo filled up on a good mood.