The sun is shining and the sky is bright blue above the south of Spain - the weather gods are in favor of the rally pilots. A small compensation for the fact that the first day of the race in the new year cannot quite be called exciting. Neither...
The sun is shining and the sky is bright blue above the south of Spain - the weather gods are in favor of the rally pilots. A small compensation for the fact that the first day of the race in the new year cannot quite be called exciting. Neither driving skills nor navigation skills are being asked of the drivers. The drivers need to cover a course of 920 km which run from Barcelona to Granada almost completely on highways. Nevertheless, this monotony can also be exhausting.
Thus, there is enough time to talk about the ambitions the KTM- factory piltots have. Dakar master Fabrizio Meoni hast thoroughly thought about the withdrawal of his resignation: "I am physically as well as mentally in great condition. Due to knowing what is important besides driving, I am able to show the young drivers a lot: reading the road book, navigating, reducing the speed in villages to avoid penalties, always having enough fuel in the tank. With the experience I gained, I am in on the race for the lead. One surely also needs a lot of luck but I would be more than happy to stand on the podium at the end."
The rookies who are driving for KTM this year have a complete different position. For instance, Jordi Duran, team KTM Repsol-Red Bull: "It is my first Dakar. The opening race accompanied by so many fans combined with a home audience was magnificent. My primary goal is, of course, to arrive in Dakar. Additionally, I want to help my three teammates if, at some point, they have any problems." And that is exactly the team spirit the Spanish team chef, Jordi Arcarons, is working for. The goal the Spanish team has is pretty clear. They want another victory. "We do not have a new Nani within our team", said Arcarons. "But we do have chances to repeat the triumph we had last year. Therefore, we work together and my job is to make sure the team goes together well.
The Americans Chris Blais and Kellon Welch are also new in the Dakar. Their team chef, Joe Baker, is very enthusiastic about the sunny boys. "These two are the right ones for the Dakar!" Last year we took part in order to learn and to have a closer look at the mother of all desert rallies. From now on we are working on our big plan: With one of our US- pilots we want to be on the podium in three years the latest." That is the goal Chris Blais is working for: "I am well prepared for the Dakar, drove several races in the desert and am in great condition for this huge rally. I manage my KTM 660 Rally well. The motorbike is new for me but we go together well. And within three years I want to be under the top three drivers."
Carlo de Gavardo can't wait this long. The Chilean is riding a KTM 450 this year. "This is a new experience for me after having been on a big bike for 9 years. And the feeling I have when my friends are going by on big bikes isn't great. But my bike is top and I have great ambitions. I want to win within the 450 ranking and be within the top 5 in the overall standing. I am in great physical and mental condition.
Condition, by the way: Alfie Cox had his shoulder x-rayed last night. The good news: Nothing is damaged, neither bones nor ligaments. The bad news: The ligaments at the right shoulder have become inflamed. Alfie takes painkiller and needs to see how his shoulder gets by from day to day. Let's wish him all the best!
Before the followers of the rally reach African ground tomorrow, the drivers will have to ride a 10 km ranking just before Grananda. Taking a short farewell of Europe!