A Scorpion in the desert Meeting former winners of the Dakar, or sports-persons from different disciplines at the bivouac on the rest day is par for the course, but it is much rarer to meet rock stars. Rudolph Schenker, guitarist and founder ...
A Scorpion in the desert
Meeting former winners of the Dakar, or sports-persons from different disciplines at the bivouac on the rest day is par for the course, but it is much rarer to meet rock stars. Rudolph Schenker, guitarist and founder of the group Scorpions was invited by the Volkswagen team to present its new Amarok Pickup. Dressed from head to toe in leather, with bleached blond hair, the composer of the cult song 'Still Loving You' seemed delighted to discover this new inspiring world. "I've written a book, 'Rock your life', which takes about making an adventure out of life. And the Dakar is the latest adventure of this century. Just being able to experience a bit of the Dakar will give me inspiration for new songs. There is so much energy, such atmosphere. The Dakar is rock and roll on 4 wheels". Schenker will in fact be following the next three days in an Amarok pickup discovering the landscapes of the Atacama Desert. How about taking part in the race? "You never know. I've got a driving licence and I've already raced on the Nurburgring circuit".
Michael Pisano has signed up for an adventure: that of Team Casteu, who entered into partnership with French constructor Sherco to set up an ambitious project involving 450cc bikes able to grab the leading places in the Dakars of the future. Initially, the young 25-year old biker had accepted the role of 'water carrier' for David Casteu, who was the first leader of the Dakar 2010, before withdrawing after a serious fall. For the constructor, the race became a catastrophe, with Cyril Joanin and Fred Lepan, also converts to Sherco machines, dropping out as well. As a result, Michael is the last rider to fly the flag for the brand and is withstanding all the mishaps that each day of the race throws into his path: "I absolutely must reach the finish, but since I've got a competitive personality, I'm already disappointed with my ranking. I know that the bike is well designed, but each day I lose time due to minor problems and it's annoying. On the stage at Copiapo I spent almost two hours on repairs due to a petrol intake problem. So, every day I revise my goals downwards, and I now hope I can finish in the top 30. I know that the best way is to remain concentrated and continue attacking, otherwise you suffer. I think I've still got much to prove on the remaining specials, if I'm able to express myself".
Getting the Super Rocket out of a hole
Decidedly, little Annie Seel cannot take part in a Dakar without experiencing incredible adventures. The one during the 8th stage leading to Copiapo will remain etched in her memory. "I was riding fairly slowly in the dust with poor visibility and when I tried to change track, I came face to face with an enormous hole. It was impossible to avoid it. I jumped off the bike to avoid falling in but my bike, the Super Rocket, went right to the bottom". The Swede reckons the hole was 6 metres deep. "A real tomb, perfectly dug". The superb adventure of the quickest women on the Dakar seemed to be set to stop right there, at the bottom of a huge hole. But help was at hand, in the guise of the Dakar Race Director, Etienne Lavigne on board his helicopter. "He went down into the hole to strap up the bike, put on my helmet to avoid being hurt by falling stones and helped direct the bike as it was airlifted out. Etienne and the helicopter pilot are the real heroes of the day. What's more, I filmed it all". As a result, Annie's adventure on this thrill-packed Dakar can continue.
Crowds at Copiapo
The Avenue of 9th July in Buenos Aires and its tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators at the starting ceremony obviously sticks in the memory. But now, there is also Copiapo and the Chilean public who did not hesitate to brave the sun, sand and isolation. In the desert bowl that yesterday played host to the finishing line and bivouac, the crowds came from all sides. On foot from the specially set up car park, in 4x4 or on motorbikes, hundreds of fans came to mass behind the fragile protective barriers and then buzz around the edges of the camp to catch a glimpse of the riders and drivers enrolled in the rally. On the finishing line of the day's special, "Chaleco" Lopez not only won the stage but also the clapometer competition, with cries of "Chile! Chile!" that were all the more lively since the spectators had found themselves a spontaneous master of ceremonies. The Prohens brothers did not fare too badly either. As the day went by, the Dakar shop was increasingly submerged by customers: "We haven't got any more fleece tops, or jackets. Or Dakar badges," says Sabrina, one of the salespeople in this nomadic shop at around 19.00, with the sun still beating down. Javiera Orellana, 20 years old and a student in agronomics is still trying to get a grasp of it all. But sometimes the Dakar goes to fast: "We didn't know when they were arriving at the finishing line, so we rushed to the bivouac!" With her mother, Silvia Lopez, and her friend Susana Marchant, they are there to support the Prohens, Gino Bianchi and the star of the day, "Chaleco" Lopez, of course.