On the 31st of December the biggest Dakar Rally of all times is going to take place in the desert. Jutta Kleinschmidt, Carlos Sainz & Co are not just ready for a lot of sweat and crazy stories but also for potential title holders. The Dakar...
On the 31st of December the biggest Dakar Rally of all times is going to take place in the desert. Jutta Kleinschmidt, Carlos Sainz & Co are not just ready for a lot of sweat and crazy stories but also for potential title holders.
The Dakar Rally, previously known as Paris-Dakar, is the world's most famous, largest and toughest desert rally. At the 28th rally, which will begin in Lisbon on December 31, there are more participants than ever before. 240 motorcycles, 187 cars and 80 trucks will be at the starting line. The racing caravan will be accompanied by 240 service vehicles. If they want to reach the goal in Dakar the participants have to cover 9,043 kilometers in 15 stages by January 15 -- 4,813 kilometers of which are crucial for the ranking.
In the auto race, the dual will be conducted between Mitsubishi and Volkswagen. The Volkswagen works team (supported by Red Bull) will chase last year's winner Stephane Peterhansel driving Mitsubishi with five Touaregs. Jutta Kleinschmidt will have the most routine in the chase, as she will be driving her 15th Dakar this year. In 2001 she was the only woman to date and the only German to win the desert rally. Jutta was ranked third last year, and this year she is aspiring to finish two places higher. "I have invested a great deal of hope and a lot of sweat in this rally over the last three years. For me Dakar is thus one of the most important rallys that I have ever driven in."
The most famous Dakar rookie will also be driving a VW-Touareg: The Spaniard Carlos Sainz, a two-time rally world champion, is already anxiously awaiting his first large marathon rally. "I finally want to know if the crazy stories about Dakar that my colleagues have told me are really true," Carlos says. The other drivers on the Red Bull VW team are the French Bruno Saby, the South African Giniel de Villiers and Mark Miller from the USA.
Red Bull also has several hot irons in the fire with the motorcyclists. The Spaniard Marc Coma caused a stir last year with his KTM, finishing secord. This year, too, he will be the greatest challenge for top favorite Cyril Despres (FRA). The Red Bull drivers Giovanni Sala (ITA, 2005 eighth in the overall ranking) and Chris Blais (USA) who was ninth in the overall ranking last year are also top favourites for the first ten.
The thesis with which Jutta Kleinschmidt completed her physics degree in 1986 was on the "Development and Realisation of a Climate Test Rig for Vehicle Climate Devices". Her topic was almost prophetic. Vehicles and extreme climate conditions have been a central part of Jutta's life ever since. Jutta has competed in marathon rallies since 1987. At first with motorcycles, then increasingly with cars since 1993--initially as Jean-Louis Schlesser's navigator, then taking the wheel herself. Her dream, a victory in the Dakar Rally, inched ever closer: she was the first woman to win a stage in 1997, and in 1999 she was the first woman to lead the overall standings and have a podium finish in the final standings. She was the first woman to win overall in 2001. The following years proved that the victory was no fluke: she took second at the 2002 Dakar Rally and third place in 2005.
THE DAKAR VETERAN
"Just get to the finish!" -- for Nani Roma, for a long time that was his motto in the Dakar Rally. Between 1997 and 2003, six times he started out in the toughest rally in the world, and six times he failed to finish. Each time at the start, things initially looked good for the Spaniard: he managed to win 10 stages, and on at least two occasions it appeared as though the rally would turn out in his favour. What he did manage to win, however, was the reputation of having eternal bad luck at Dakar and in turn, a mass following that kept increasingly more fingers crossed for him with each passing year. In 2004, with many fingers sore from faithfully rooting for him, Nani finally emerged victorious at Dakar. And so as not to challenge his luck even more, he then switched over from two- to four-wheel vehicles. And, as it turns out, quite successfully: With his Mitsubishi Pajero, in 2005 at Dakar Nani drove his way to sixth place -- and then, after only nine months with his additional two wheels, in the Baja Spain Aragon he won his first car rally ever!