Interview: Jordi Arcarons, experience in person He urges his pupils to be cautious and not to waist the opportunities they may find in the final straight of the 2005 Once the halfway point of the race has been left behind, Jordi Arcarons, as...
Interview: Jordi Arcarons, experience in person
He urges his pupils to be cautious and not to waist the opportunities they may find in the final straight of the 2005
Once the halfway point of the race has been left behind, Jordi Arcarons, as Team Manager of the Repsol KTM, values all that has happened so far as high as all that is yet to come. The "desert poppy", after more than 15 participations in the Dakar, is one of the most expert and recognised persons in the competition. His riders know that his advice is one of the most appreciated goods in this demanding race. Therefore, they will try to follow exactly everything Arcarons tells them, to move on firmly and making good use of the opportunities they will have on their way to Dakar. After the latest tragic events, Jordi will also be the person to calm down and give support to his pupils in such hard moments.
The first question has obviously got to do with everything that happened these days. How are the riders and how do you think this might influence their performance?
"Above all, we cannot forget that riders are first persons and then professional sportsmen. The three of them Marc, Isidre and Gio, are very saddened after what has happened. You have to consider that Meoni was a tough rival on the track but a dear friend under any other circumstance. So the death of a friend, right in front of you is something hard to overcome. They will finish the race because they and all the others know that it's exactly what Fabrizio would have wanted them to do; they are professionals and they will finish their job, but it will probably difficult to get back the pace on the first day. It may be even harder for Gio; he had been Meoni's backpacker since last year and knew him very well."
Do you think that this Dakar is being excessively hard?
"You know, this is a risky sport and the riders are the first to know the dangers involved in this race. There's no need to look for somebody to blame, because it's not about that. It's about improving and doing things to avoid deaths like Fabrizios's and Jose Manuel's in the future. It is true that maybe the value of navigation has been lost a bit, because the organisation of the Dakar limits the movements of the riders in the stage. You cannot leave the indicated route more than three kilometres or else you get penalised. That means that everybody takes the same way; since everybody takes the same way there is no chance to play your cards with navigation - it's very difficult to get too much lost - so the only option is to open the throttle and take more risks to get an advantage over your rivals. On the other hand, it will be very difficult for the organisation to lose a rider in the middle of the desert. I insist, this can be improved, but the sport as such is wonderful and I don't think it's right to start criticising the race now."
Let's talk about more strictly sporting aspects. Have you reached the aims set for the first half of the race?
"The aim of our team was to reach the rest day within the group of candidates to the final victory and we've made it. We didn't mind being first or third or fourth, what we wanted was to have chances for the victory. Until that moment, two specials had been cancelled and the race pace had been broken a bit. The forecast was that many riders would be out of the race before the rest day, but the standings have shown that there haven't been that many. I'd say that from now on there's going t be an important fight and it will be interesting to see what happens in this second part of the race. Marc has also shown his potential and the rest of the riders count on him; Isidre overcame a complicated situation winning the stage before the rest day and recovering several minutes on his rivals. However, after what has happened, we have to wait and see how all of the riders recover, actually not only the riders..."
What would be your assessment of the evolution of the Repsol riders in this competition?
"Very positive, in line with the aims we had set ourselves. Maybe Isidre is the one who had more problems that sent him a bit back, but the fact of winning the Tidjikja - Atar stage allowed him to get back confidence and to be back in the front. Marc is doing great as well. He reached the rest day with an impeccable bike, no crash and no important problem; he's done everything just the way we'd planned it in the beginning."
A general comment on the race.
"I don't think that it's being the hardest Dakar of history as many people are saying, but there have been a series of determining factors that have made it become harder than expected. The fog in Rabat, the sand storm in Tichit, the lack of fuel at some refuellings, some electrical problems of the privateers... I wouldn't say that it's been a harder Dakar, there've just been some stages that got more complicated than necessary and people arrived really late. I also think that they cancelled a stage that shouldn't have been cancelled or at least should have been shortened, but safety is number one here and the organisation considered that we did not have the necessary guarantees to race. As regards the route, I think that it would have been worth making a bit more of a selection in Morocco, before entering Mauritania. Maybe it would have been worth including a bit more sand and dunes to see who is really prepared to enter Mauritania. There should have been some sand and dunes stages, because if somebody isn't prepared enough, he wouldn't have been forced to be left in the middle of nowhere in a desert stage like the one in Mauritania. Morocco was a lot of liaison and little track, then we immediately entered Mauritania with a lot of dunes and tracks. I think that the change was too sudden. Both riders and organisation have it much easier to get back home from Morocco."