Dakar: Face to Face, day 13

Face to Face January 12, 2006 bike: Dakar Spirit Pascal Schandelmayer and Stephane Clair There are stories of friendship that are born from adversity. Pascal and Stephane met by accident under the shade of a locust tree lost in the middle of...

Face to Face
January 12, 2006

bike: Dakar Spirit
Pascal Schandelmayer and Stephane Clair

There are stories of friendship that are born from adversity. Pascal and Stephane met by accident under the shade of a locust tree lost in the middle of the desert. Pascal sheltered his bike, which ran dry of petrol between Nouakchott and Kiffa. And then Stephane arrived. He could have past some kilometres away. He could have also not stopped at all. But Stephane is not that kind of guy. He offered Pascal half of is remaining fuel.

They agreed to meet at CP1 and fill the tanks. Stephane went ahead, while Pascal took it easy to take care of his bike. Some kilometres later, Stephane came across a truck on its side at the bottom of a dune. He stopped, signalled the accident, helped the team extricate themselves from the cab, and then finally went on to CP1. Pascal waits and moral is running low. "There is no petrol. Now we're going to have to find another way. Apparently we can find some in a village a few kilometres from here." It is the beginning of the spiral. They could only get their hands on 20-litres, which wasn't going to get them very far. They set off down the route of the stage in search of a hypothetical service station. They finally find it, 250 kilometres later. The die was cast. Impossible to find the route of the special without adventuring into the unknown, impossible to make their way to CP1 without taking the risk of running dry, again...They thus decided to head towards the finish, hoping not to be disqualified for having taken to the asphalt. These new friends are sure that their lucky star and Stephane's sportsman like gesture would be enough to assure their salvation." I couldn't have imagined leaving Pascal, it's a question of state of mind," emphasises Stephane. And I believe that this follows in step with Dakar values. Anyway, we'll see."

After being allowed to take the start at Kiffa, Stephane and Pascal were called onto the carpet by the race stewards at Kayes. And they didn't like their chances. "The race stewards were not in a mood to hear our side..." At 20h30, the verdict was handed down, cruel and without appeal. " They didn't want to hear a thing. As far as they are concerned we used the road. End of story. Even though the rule is clear, I am gutted...especially for Stephane who had no reason to help me..." Pascal sits on his container staring into space...Stephane tries to comfort him. " Don't worry, I don't regret for one second, giving you my petrol." But Stephane is also shaken up. "It hurts not being able to go further. We did the hardest part...but today, I know I 've the guts and the energy to go all the way."

Pascal from Aubagne and Stephane from Aix-en-Provence will head to Dakar on the route travelled by the assistance vehicles and together savour, if just a little bit, of their shared dream. They'll try to forget their disappointment. " We obviously lost something in this episode, they underline. But we'll also come away with something, which we were not necessarily expecting to find..." A friendship that will grow each weekend on the stone laden trails of Saint-Victoire, between Aubagne and Aix-en-Provence. It is also, and especially the spirit of Dakar.

bike: Lake Rose or nothing
Thierry Lamotte

He's limping; bare legged, making his way through a labyrinth of bike trunks. He has a twisted knee, a dislocated shoulder and moral has hit rock bottom thanks to a string or nightmares since Quarzazate. But Thierry Lamotte will be at Lake Rose, with his equally unlucky comrade Alain Hermet, the strains of Dakar are also written on his face. He promised his wife and four children. Do the Dakar...a constant dream these past twenty years. Back in the day Thierry battled with Gilles Algay and Richard Sainct in National enduro events. And years later when fellow dental prosthetist, Jerôme Laraignou, proposed to give this adventure a go, he went for it. A novice in rally raid competition, he simply test rode his KTM enduro bike on some Moroccan tracks this past November to prepare for what he calls "hell".

Night has fallen for some time over the bivouac at Kayes, Mali. It is the time for discussion but also bike repairs for a competitor such as he, with no assistance. Thierry first talks of his emotions back at the start in Lisbon: "For me, the Dakar is about participating in an extraordinary human adventure, which allows one to discover and surpass one's self in extreme situations...I have certainly gotten what I asked for. The suffering of the other riders had me looking at my turpitudes". His first riding hardship hit him as he arrived in Quarzazate: his foot smacked a stone, and in turn he wrenched his knee at the anterior cruciate ligament. Already beaten up, Thierry crashed heavily once again on camel grass between Zouerat and Atar. He finished the stage as best he could with a dislocated shoulder. That night in the bivouac, Thierry remained prostrate on his bike. "I don't want to come back next year. It's too hard. I saw the helicopter take Andy away, it gave me the jitters", he sighed from the Kiffa bivouac. Since, he has ridden "tranquilly" and binomially with his mate Alain.

In these conditions, Thierry struggles to find any pleasure. But his moral hasn't wavered. " I made too many sacrifices to get to this point and I'll never retire by my own accord. I'm not stopping until I reach Dakar," he concludes with a touch of rage. Each night, he phones his family in Agen to reassure everyone in his clan, and he finds the force to continue until he reaches his dream.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Richard Sainct