Jean-Louis Schlesser at the bivouac at Sahba. Jean-Louis Schlesser talks about his disappointment at having to retire from the Dakar so early on in the race, his hopes for his team mate Servia and his thoughts on the future. Jean-Louis...
Jean-Louis Schlesser at the bivouac at Sahba.
Jean-Louis Schlesser talks about his disappointment at having to retire from the Dakar so early on in the race, his hopes for his team mate Servia and his thoughts on the future.
Jean-Louis what happened on the special between El Borma and Ghadames?
"At the moment we don?t exactly know and won?t find out now until we get back to the workshop and take the car apart. Most likely it is an electrical problem. The engine started making strange noises and we preferred to stop rather than wreck it completely. Eventually we made it back to El Borma and found a truck to take the car back to Europe."
And how did you feel when you realised that your Dakar was over?
Extremely disappointed especially as this is the third year the race hasn't gone our way. It was particularly frustrating because up until that point things weren't looking too bad. We knew that we would suffer on the European specials they are never suited to our car, but we were confident that the profile of the rest the rallye we would be good for us. On the first African special we tied for third place and if we hadn?t had two punctures on the second we would have finished third again. I was confident we would be able to do something on this rallye."
Rather than return to Europe with the car you decided rejoined the rallye here at Sahba in Libya. What will your role be now?
"Essentially I will continue my role as team manager and help Servia as best I can. The priority is to get him to Sharm El Sheikh. Logically he should be able to gradually move up the leader board but I don't want him to take any unnecessary risks. Above all we want a car at the final finish line."
Clearly it is early days but do you any thoughts yet about the rest of the year and the next Dakar?
"You're right, as a team we are still in the race and that is what we are concentrating on. That said as a private constructor I am constantly thinking about the future. Obviously we need to talk with our partners but it is clear that the car class is being increasingly competitive and we need to keep pace. We have already won 5 Rallye-Raid World Cups and if it is a question of making a choice between trying to win a 6th and concentrating on next year's Dakar I am tempted to say I'd prefer to concentrate on the Dakar."
Here in the bivouac there is a lot of discussion about what direction your cars might take in the future. Can you give us any hints?
"It is too early to say but obviously I have some thoughts on the subject in general. Firstly, with the increased involvement of the major constructors, costs are escalating. We have a very motivated new partner in Ford and I hope that their implication will increase so that we can stay at the front of the charge. It is good thing for everyone that the major constructors have returned to rallye-raid but it would be a pity if cost became the only factor. Ideally I would like to see the regulations evolve so that cost / performance ratio allows private teams like ours to fight with the factory teams. In my opinion it is vital for the future of rallye-raid that everybody has a chance."