Dakar: Day 11 "My Dakar" statements

Be A part of the Legend Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind... Luc Pagnon - PLANETE AVENTURE - 056 Return From Hell He's still present and that's...

Be A part of the Legend
Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind...

Luc Pagnon - PLANETE AVENTURE - 056

Return From Hell

He's still present and that's the most important thing in his mind. Luc Pagnon is one of the few survivors of the Tidjikja-Nema stage he finished 26 hours after taking off.

"In my life, I've always been lucky", admits the Frenchman who went through all the different nightmares of this special. Not surprising for a man who became the first in Dakar history to have bib number 13 on his back. A favour that the organisers offered him, last year, before the prologue in Marseille.

This time, the organisation made him a favour they hadn't really planned by cancelling the specials between Nema and Mopti and Mopti and Bobo Dioulasso. The most smiling Marseilles native of the Dakar, indeed had made it to Nema outside the authorised time, and therefore should have been forced to retire. "I injured a shoulder after a fall. When I went through CP2, I knew that something was going on. I was badly explained what it was but felt that the time would not be taken in account".

Lost with three other bikers, Pagnon changed strategy. Exhausted after hours wandering around, Pagnon told his colleagues : "I'm tired, I'm sleeping here". At that moment it was 22h55, the four were to wake up at around 5h00 to hit the rroad again al the way to Nema... at 10h00. "We only had the time to stop, jump on the plane taking us to Bamako".

Like all the other competitors that arrived late, Pagnon was given a 20h penalty on Nani Roma (1st overall). Not important for the renchman : "Today I'm given hours and hours in the face but that doesn't change anything. For me, a rally raid has to be difficult. That's what I love although I never fell as much in my life. In the desert I saw a herd of donkeys, it was magnificent. I'm far from being disgusted of riding and that's the most important thing !"

Siriwattanakum Pornsawan - RALLIART - 275

They Call Him 'The Lion Of The Desert'

His face might not be as well known as that of Meoni or Vatanen, his name even less, but Pornsawan Siriwattanakum is accustomed to the Dakar. On the bivouac all the 'oldies' know how talented he is. This two time winner of the T2 category (1993 and 95) explains his big return to the Dakar : "I hadn't come back to the rally in seven years but Mitsubishi came to get me for a new project and I accepted with great pleasure. This year, they only asked me to finish. Next year we'll try to win the diesel category".

A chat with his co-driver Philippe Bocande (19th Dakar), already his partner in 1992, shows how popular Pornsawan is back home : "first of all, he really is an excellent driver (16th overall), but he also is a star. In Thailand, there are 6 TV channels and all talk about him at least 30 minutes every day. In the city of Bangkok, there are three giant screens that show the Dakar, non stop. Of course it's good promotion for Mitsubishi during three weeks. In Thailand the cross country market is massive. 100 000 vehicle are sold every year. Now you understand why they want us to make it to the end !"

The possibilities of 'the lion of the desert', as he is known, don't stop at the only Dakar rally.

Alongside his passion for driving, Siriwattanakum is a successful business man. He simply is the biggest tobacco producer in his country. That's also one of he reasons why he was absent of the rally for seven year, having to cope with the economical crisis.

-aso-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Nani Roma , Philippe Bocandé