Gaston, my hero The adventure of Ivo Kastan is over; it stopped on Tuesday at the start of Stage 4. His bike was just leaking too much oil. Shattered, he had to head for the assistance trucks, follow their lead and get to Neuquen at 60 km/h. "I...
Gaston, my hero
The adventure of Ivo Kastan is over; it stopped on Tuesday at the start of Stage 4. His bike was just leaking too much oil. Shattered, he had to head for the assistance trucks, follow their lead and get to Neuquen at 60 km/h. "I was adding oil occasionally. A truck gave me some; it was oil for diesel engines," says the Czech who already participated in 8 Dakars and finished 6 of them, with a smile. This year, for his 9th participation, he had to have a new motivation. "Latin America gave me 50% of the motivation and the rest was given to me by my job: I am a small bikes dealer so I decided to build a brand new bike." So this is how this tall lean man decided to challenge the Dakar with a 146cc bike prepared by him and nicknamed Honda Rahier. "Gaston (Rahier) was my hero; he was not tall, he was always in a good moood and he won the Dakar." Ivo will be driving along, following the race on his bike using side trails to be able to be with his journalist wife every night at the bivouac. He is not disappointed at all. "With this bike, I finished fourth of the European Bajas Cup in the less than 250cc category. I think that a lot of amateurs are wrong on the Dakar: big bikes are too expensive and too dangerous. With my bike, I have found the true spirit of this rally again."
The sun shines later but people are in bed earlier
Having the Dakar in Latin America is also - for all contenders - a big change in season-related habits. Being summer in the Southern hemisphere, temperatures are higher than in Africa - Morocco and Mauritania especially. The situation is also quite different when it comes to the number of hours of sunshine and this is a decisive element as was recalled by David Castera before the race: "For the bikers mainly, you cover the same distance in two hours at night than you would in one hour by day." And the trend is confirmed in practice. Jerome Fauchier has been present in the race for many years to help bikers without assistance racing solo and he sees the difference: "It is true that even with lighting problems they have an easier time here. E.g. if we analyze the situation around 11PM, on average more people have already arrived. But there are still some who are having a hard time and who have to stay up pretty late to repair." Yannick Guyomarc'h is part of those who already had their fair share of night-time mechanical repairs this year and is aware of the fact that the situation would have been much worse for him in previous years: "Of course, the big trap in Africa is the night. I had oil problems there and on such a long stage in Mauritania, I might not have arrived", rejoices this Parisian fire fighter who is still in the race after four days.
A rally raid moves in mysterious ways. As he had just registered for his 8th Dakar, Carlo Mercandelli got a phonecall from the Bishop of his city called Casale Monferrato between Milan and Turin. Bishop Gennaro Antonio had a mission for him: "He had read in the local press that I was racing the Dakar and that the raid was going through Neuquen. He wanted me to bring money to one of the four missionary present in the area. I accepted and called by my sponsors; I put in some of my own money and on Tuesday, I handed in a symbolic 10,000 euros check to Father Varvello Italo. Actually, he will be receiving the money through bank transfer and will be able to reinforce his mission in favor of single mothers and abandoned children." Carlo never doubted: "I think someone up there helped me get to Neuquen..." Arrived 137th of Stage 4, the adventure goes on for Carlo, and so will solidarity: "It was a first, but it won't be the last..."