Dakar: Face to Face, day two

Face to Face The Dakar Magazine January 1, 2005 Everyday feelings of those who are not specially famous but who dare the challenge and give a dream for those who stay behind... Jehan Godefroy de France - M.D Rallye Sport - 161 "I didn't...

Face to Face
The Dakar Magazine
January 1, 2005

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

Jehan Godefroy de France - M.D Rallye Sport - 161

"I didn't know how to ride anymore

"It's basically the same as on the sea, except that on the sea you can't say 'stop' like that and quit the race and head back to the bivouac". A former skipper, Jehan Godefroy de France, after having competed in the Figaro solo race and the AG2R Transat, decided four years ago to switch from boat to bike. Looking for extreme conditions, only one challenge came to mind: the Telefonica-Dakar. At least one can say that this father of three was not disappointed by his Barcelona super special. The six kilometres on the beach of Castelldefels immediately launched Jehan's rally... in fine fashion.

Indeed, a very emotional Jehan Godefroy de France burst into tears on the finish line. And even he doesn't know why... "I was high on adrenaline at the start. I was so impatient of starting that when I took off on the track, I lost control of my nerves. I just couldn't control the bike. I didn't know how to ride anymore. I rode like sh...", explains the Frenchman who eventually finished 210th of the special. More than his poor performance, the fact to finally be on the race deeply moved the rider.

For four years now, he has been preparing for the race in a semi-scientific way. "I seriously started riding in 2000. Since April 2003, I rode 18 000 km. I established a two-year program. From the start of 2003, I started looking for sponsors so that my physical and riding preparation were not disturbed by budget issues. I finalised my budget at the end of the 2004 Dakar". The whole year was dedicated to the choice of the bike and of his assistance but most of all of his impressive physical training. He indeed worked with a personal trainer and started judo to avoid a possible bad fall. One small detail has its importance: Jehan Godefroy de France examined all the race competitors and their bikes to know more about the mistakes to avoid.

Only theory has nothing to do with the real thing! And the first Barcelona test, that was made for the fans to enjoy a spectacular show ended up in a nightmare for the Loiret area rider. Now it's over, all he has in mind is the next stage and the Granada special where he promises to "keep control of his nerves and most of all... his bike.

Michel Salvatore - Tartarin Sport - 381

"A funny special...

For his tenth Dakar, experienced Michel Salvatore thought he would meet his first problems on African soil. But in his Land Cruiser, he covered the super special in first gear and finished... on three wheels in 149th spot.

At 56 years of age, Parisian Michel Salvatore, French off-track endurance champion is a figure in the rally world. After 6 appearances from 1988 to 1993 (but only one finish in 1990) he had promised never to come back: too long, too hard to organise. But in 2001, during a round of the French off-track championship, his friend Jean-Claude Gillonnier told him that he wanted to attempt the 'big adventure'. And Salvatore just couldn't say 'no' to such a challenge due to the fact that he wouldn't have to drive. Three Dakars followed with only one finish on the first occasion. Since that glorious moment, the Frenchman suffered mechanical problems (broken turbo) and driving drama (an accident). But it was "out of the question to remain on a failure" for Jean-Claude Gillonnier, who takes off for this edition with only one goal: to make it to the finish.

The duo was noticed for the extremely slow way they covered their super special. "From the start of the liaison, I noticed that the turbo pressure was close to zero and we knew that we had to be careful. We therefore decided to cover the 6kms entirely in first gear to take good care of the engine".

Their daily problem could have stopped there but fate decided otherwise. While moving to the side of the circuit to let another competitor go by, the Parisian was trapped in a hole and punctured the front left tire. "After all the bikes went through, the course was full of holes and I was unlucky. But I'm not too worried, it's just a bad day". One can only hope so for the colleagues who have organised a trip for their relatives to come and see them on the finish podium in Dakar.

On the finish line in 149th spot, with a punctured tire, one of the Tartarin Sport team mechanics rushed to give a helping hand and while the driver was answering journalist questions, the wheel was rapidly repaired. Concerning the turbo pressure, everything should be sorted out thanks to the precious assistance. More fright than serious damage for Michel Salvatore and Jean-Claude Gillonnier, who haven't lost their enthusiasm. With a passion for rally racing: Gillonnier used to work for the organisation in 99 as the bike trunk keeper while Salvatore will remember for ever a week spent with the Touareg tribes to find and bring back his car. Twenty-first in 2002, the two companions hope to be at the height of expectations on the finish line in Dakar...


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Gil de Ferran