MY DAKAR Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind... GAULOISES - KTM "Cox (KTM) n.2 - "I just think it's very difficult to say what you're going to do. When I...
Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind...
GAULOISES - KTM
"Cox (KTM) n.2 - "I just think it's very difficult to say what you're going to do. When I think of the last five years and finishing in the top 5 but never winning it! It is obviously a goal to do it. I'll take every day as it comes. Obviously I have a strategy. We have to hope it works. The biggest thing is to hope you have no bad luck and a lot of good luck. It's a long race and it's impossible to predict what's going to happen. I'll try to stay safe on the day and try not to take to many risks. The biggest problem that we have at the moment is that all the KTM riders are in the same situation and the guys in the race are not the kind that you can fool every day. The total domination from KTM is really sad for the rally because if all the other manufacters don't put their heads down and do something, it'll be an all KTM affair. It's good for KTM but you need other people in for the competition. We hope it'll turn around in the years to come. It's good to be in a team that puts its heart in a racing bike for anybody. The course is very exciting. Not taking the same route down to Dakar is very good and changes. It's new terrain for all the riders and that's something special."
"Meoni (KTM) n.1 - "If I don't win a third time it's not a problem. I will however try my best to conquer a third crown. The most important thing is to make it to Sharm El Sheik. The course suits me and the bike perfectly."
"Despres (KTM) - n°7 - "Today my shoulder injury is forgotten. I injured it four weeks ago. I was lucky enough to have a good physio and a good surgeon. I went back on my bike a few days ago and exercised a lot. I thought I would spend Christmas in front of my TV but finally I'm at the start of this Dakar. It's been a crazy three week preparation training in Andorra with a lot of home-trainer. Today, I'm at 95% of my physical capacity but the most important thing is that I managed my goal. A few years ago, my wish was to ride the Dakar at least once. Now, I'm starting my fourth race and I have become one of the main actors of the rally. I'm still young and my goal now is to be in front and win the Dakar. Today was Fabrizio Meoni's 45th birthday. I'm only 28. I still have quite a few years ahead of me."
"Sainct (KTM) - n°3 - "Egypt remains a fantastic memory, when I won between Dakar and Cairo. I also won the last rally of Egypt. It's a country that has always brought me luck. I won't dream too much because the race is never won in advance. Physically, I'm in good shape and the bike works well. I start the race in excellent condition. It's my tenth rally and I know the desert. The competition will come from within the KTM team. We are ten official riders and we know that normally the winner is among us. It'll be a big battle because every single one of us wants first spot."
"Flick (KTM 22) - "It's always the same pleasure coming to such an event. We know the way it is organised by ASO: it's unbelievable. This year for the 25th anniversary, the organisers have done things perfectly. We're not going to Dakar this year but it's aspecial year. We'll be lucky enough to go through the most beautiful deserts of North Africa. It's going to be splendid."
MITSUBISHI MOTOR SPORTS
"Masuoka (Nissan) - n.200 - "I don't think of the possible danger coming from my team-mate Stephane Peterhansel. I only focus on my mind, on my race. I don't think about the other competitors. I'm not worried about the Nissans, BMWs and VWs. The course is suited for us. I feel very confortable about the car. The sand and dunes will not be a problem."
"Kleinschmitt (Volkswagen) - n°203 - "Like Jean-Louis Schlesser's buggy our car is two wheel drive with a small engine, a diesel 1.9litre. The car is based on a Volkswagen Nardo, it's called Tarek. It's a good car that can have good results. Maybe not victory but we can hope finishing in the top ten and make it to Sharm el Sheikh. It's very important for us to finish because it's our first race. It's true it's difficult to start with the Dakar but we have had very little time to prepare the car. We have only started developping it three mounths ago and we have tested it in Morocco. My car for the Dakar was only ready yesterday evening and I drove all night to make it to Marseille. On the eve of the start, I'm slightly anxious because the car is new and so is the team that will discover the rally. I'm still very happy because this Dakar provides us with quite a lot of sand and navigation. Our car is a lot slower than the others but in the desert we still have a chance."
"Vatanen (Nissan n.204) - "For the first time in years, I was offered the opportunity to come back and I didn't hesitate a minute. When life calls you, you don't stay in bed! For me the Dakar is more than a race. It's a real human adventure despite what people living in cities might believe. I've seen things on the Dakar that pushes one to react. The race however also remains important. I really like it. The Dakar is a sum of a lot of things. My desire to win is still well present. I'm not the kind of person that makes a lot of calculations although sometimes I should have planned things a little more. But at least my life has been full of events. The Dakar is a bit like bungy jumping: you need a lot of courage to start and then you don't quite know what to expect.
SCHLESSER - FORD
"Schlesser (Schlesser Ford n.208) - "This year, the number of competitors for the win has never been so big. I believe around fifteen pilots can win the race. The battle should be fierce and we will only fight against the second (laughs). We have great expectations. We won't act like many of the competitors when they say they only come to have a good time. Today we start the race to win it. I can't say I will win the Dakar but we have a team and a car to do so."
X - RAID
"Alphand (BMW n.221) - "I wasn't specially careful on downhills during my previous career, but the dunes we will have to cross this year are impressive. We will have to be very cautious. You can go up them rather easily but once at the top, you then have 80 to 100m downhill. The major danger is to flip over. Uptil then, a lot of things will happen. I not scared of all these dunes. On the contrary. If we don't have mechanical problems, I believe this Dakar could be excellent for us."
"Mayer (Mitsubishi n.236) - "Last year, I was still on two wheels. Mitsubishi offered me a contract with a great car so I decided to turn to four wheels. I've already competed in six races and this 25th edition of the Dakar is a new challenge. What changes the most is having a co-pilot. When you're used to being alone, it's difficult to trust someone else. The most important is to gain in experience and improve. Despite what people think, piloting a car is not easier than a bike. On the other hand, it's less physical but the challenge remains huge. One thing's for sure: I want to make it to Sharm El Sheik. I want to finish, that's the most important."
"Patissier (Volkswagen n.272) - "To race the Dakar is one of my dreams since the age of15. It's a real challenge and I can't wait for the tracks. This year, navigation will be very important because we'll be crossing oceans of sand. I therefore asked my friend Steve Ravussin to be my co-pilot. After the oceans of the 'Route du Rhum', he will be on board with me for the desert oceans of the Dakar.