Questions / Answers - Raphael Sperrer - Sylvain Poncet: 48 hours in the Desert to think about the Dakar Rallye Q and A with Raphael Sperrer Raphael Sperrer and Sylvain Poncet were 16th overall after two days of the Dakar Rally when their Buggy...
Questions / Answers - Raphael Sperrer - Sylvain Poncet: 48 hours in the Desert to think about the Dakar Rallye
Q and A with Raphael Sperrer
Raphael Sperrer and Sylvain Poncet were 16th overall after two days of the Dakar Rally when their Buggy SMG slid in a deep ravine and broke the rear axle. Unfortunately for Raphael and Sylvain, the assistance truck had also broken down and could not help in time. We spoke with Raphael Sperrer after he dropped out of the rally and recovered from the incident.
Q Do you think that heroes exist in the Rally Dakar?
Of course I believe that heroes exist in the Dakar Rally. There are really two kinds: the athletes and drivers who are supported by factory car manufacturers and still give their all to the event. The other kind is just the general people who want the adventure and this is why they participate, and they work just as hard as the professionals. They're all heroes.
Q Are you a modern time adventurer?
I don't see myself as a big hero although I'm more in the sports and athlete category. Of course parts of me long for the adventure and I'll have to work on this after the rally to try to control that urge better!
Q Is it true that the way you dropped out of the rally Dakar 2007 was kind of an adventure?
In some aspects of course the dropping out of the rally was also kind of an adventure. For instance, to start with, we were not aware that our assistance truck had also broken down much earlier in the stage. To break the rear axle in a car is not an insurmountable problem. Normally it is not a serious incident and in many cases if you have the right parts available you can even repair it yourself on-site.
Q How are you coming back to civilization?
It's a bit ironic really that I have to find my own way back home. Indeed if Sylvain or I had been injured in the accident, we would come home under the ASO organization insurance policy. But as we are sound and not injured, we must find our own way out of Africa back home-- Once the car is out of the ravine, we will tow it with another car. We will then reach Ouarzazate and take a 4X4 drive to reach the nearest airport and I will try to fly to Vienna either via Paris or via Brussels.
Q Who did you meet in the desert? Did anyone come to your rescue after your accident?
A sum total of three camels and two deer. Unfortunately they didn't speak French, Arabic or German!
Q Were you scared at all?
No, not really, I never felt I was in danger. But to be honest two days stranded without changing clothes when the sunset has come, it gets really cold here. The altitude is about 1,500 meters and it feels a bit like spending the night on a mountain back in Austria in the winter-time wearing only summer clothing. It was uncomfortable but not very scary.
Q Can you tell us about the magic of the African nights?
This is good for Mauritania where it is warm at night. Here in Morocco, nights are cold, just like at home.
Q Do you feel that the human side in you has grown? Are you richer after this adventure?
Probably yes. To spend 24 to 48 hours alone in the desert gives you a lot to think. You do not have any telephone, you do not have any family around. You are on your own with yourself and your priorities certainly get different angles.
Q After the accident, when did you speak to your wife?
48 hours later. She was the first person I reached this morning as my phone got reception again. Between the batteries and the signal that had disappeared when the ASO caravan progressed, there was no way of communicating with the rest of the world.
Q What did she say?
She was really relieved. In fact, she knew all the way that I had been safe around the car. But the word was in the Austrian media and the various reports on TV and Radios frightened her at the end.
Q Did you know that one of the competitors had a fatal accident today?
No, not until I spoke to my wife who told me about it. It's very sad.
Q What did you think about this accident?
It's a real horror and so sad. The motorcycle riders are so much more vulnerable than us car racers. Nothing protects them in case of an accident. I feel so sorry for him and his family.
Q Do you think that one can prepare fully to the Dakar adventure?
Probably yes you can prepare yourself 100 per cent physically and logistically. But at the end there is nothing that you can plan clearly in the desert. You have to adapt constantly to the elements.
Q Has your excellent physical preparation helped you during the incident?
Certainly it has. I was mentally very strong and my body did not suffer too much.
Q Did you speak to your sponsors since your adventure ended?
Not to all of them. But I spoke to Angelika Kresch at one of our sponsors, Remus, who helped us so much since the start of my racing career. She was more worried about me than about the car or the loss of branding exposure for the rest of the rally. She only asked if I was fine. She was really afraid that I would have encountered a serious problem. She had no idea of the details of the accident nor from the fact that our C5 truck had gone missing and could not help us--