Next stop, Buenos Aires ! The administrative and technical scrutineering for the Europeans finishes Thursday evening at Le Havre where the last of the 710 vehicles will go through a mandatory series of checks.

From then on the machines will be waiting at the Parc Ferme at the harbour of Le Havre, ready to board. The 'Grande Benelux', the boat that will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean is expected at Le Havre on Sunday evening. The first machines will enter the ship on Monday at 6 in the morning.

Some 820 vehicles will then be placed on board (710 for the race and assistance as well as around 60 organisation vehicles and 50 for media) for a departure scheduled on Monday evening.

The starting point of a journey that will finish the 16th or 17th of December at Zarate, the harbour of the Argentinean capital. Around a hundred vehicles (Asians, Americans, South Americans and top teams) will go through their technical scrutineering in Buenos Aires the 31st of December and 1st of January.

A first row rider

Former prop of the French National rugby team, Christian Califano went through administrative and technical scrutineering this morning. "It's a first test managed with success", commented the rugby player who will be taking part in his first Dakar on a Yamaha 450 WRF. "Physically the preparation for the Dakar is similar to that for a rugby World Cup", he also explained. After the recent victory of France over Argentina at Marseille (12-6), he might not be warmly welcomed to Buenos Aires.

Latvia finally makes it

At last! Latvia's Riga Rally-Raid team finally made it to Le Havre on Thursday morning, 24 hours after the time they were supposed to go through scrutineering. A snow storm in the Baltic countries and in Poland forced the team members to change their plans. Instead of driving their three buggies to Le Havre, they had to put them on trucks. Concerning their assistance truck, it was sent to Le Havre by ferry. Time of the trip: two and a half days!

From car to quad...

Of course the number of wheels is the same but the machine isn't quite similar. Seeing the time it took to prepare his car, Ukrainian Vadym Nesterchuk had to take a quick and radical decision on Wednesday: he will do the Dakar on quad, a good friend of his lending him one. The problem is that Vadym isn't exactly a quad specialist. "He has one month to train" explained his reassuring friend and compatriot Yuriy Gzenbenyuk, who will be doing the Dakar in a truck.