Dakar: Repsol - Jordi Arcarons interview

Jordi Arcarons, Work and Experience in The Shadow Having taken part himself more than a dozen times in the Dakar, Arcarons faces again the challenge of taking a Spanish rider to the highest step of the podium in Lake Rose With a sports career...

Jordi Arcarons, Work and Experience in The Shadow

Having taken part himself more than a dozen times in the Dakar, Arcarons faces again the challenge of taking a Spanish rider to the highest step of the podium in Lake Rose

With a sports career filled with successes, the only race Jordi Arcarons could not win was the Dakar. After fifteen times in the race, he managed to be second on four occasions. He had more than enough quality to make it, but he wasn't lucky enough to take the victory of this challenge marked by resistance, strategy and fortune. Born in Vic (Spain), Arcarons hasn't missed a single edition of the African raid since 1988; twelve times on a motorbike and once in a car, in 2003 when he announced his retirement, and then in 2004 as the highest responsible of the sporting issues of the KTM Repsol team. It was then when the big victory of the Dakar finally came, through his pupil Nani Roma. No wonder Roma won the 2004 edition after having been trying it for nine years. In addition to his own enormous quality, we cannot forget the invaluable job done by Arcarons giving support, advice and guidelines that contributed to the final victory. After so many participations in the Dakar, Arcarons, has gathered an experience that not many can match.

His job in the KTM Repsol team allows him to prepare his riders with a very complete working system; for example the quite hard practice sessions in places very similar to those they are going to find in the raid (Tunisia, Morocco, Los Monegros...). He also prepares them to know how to react when faced with extreme situations... This year, at the age of 42, he will be back in the Dakar as the highest responsible of the KTM Repsol team, but with major changes in his squad: in addition to the absence of Nani Roma, he will have the experienced Giovanni Sala and young Jordi Duran, the big stake for the future in his line-up. After the prologue stage in Barcelona and with the whole team gathered in Granada, we talked to Jordi, now that the race is just about to leave Spanish grounds and enter Africa.

How do you assess the last part of the preparation work done with your riders for the Dakar? What exactly have you been working on?

"From September we've been basically working on those aspects that generate more difficulties to the riders, such as feeling confident as regards navigation. This is the aspect that distinguishes a number one rider from other good riders at the Dakar, it really makes the difference. Only the rider capable of covering 9000 kilometres without getting lost and following the right indications can become the winner. We have focussed on the road book, navigation and a bit of resistance. I set the working guidelines for one and two hours a day and they have been doing it as they seemed fit."

A couple of weeks ago you were in Los Monegros, why?

"Because Los Monegros is the only place in Spain where you can practice navigation. It's an open space, with gravel surface, where the riders can set a course in degrees and reach a GPS point I have previously set. Thus we get an idea about whether they're able to navigate correctly or not."

Do you think that you've reached the aims set at the beginning of the season?

"We will have the confirmation of whether or not we have reached our aims after the Dakar, but I can tell you that we've reached this point exactly the way we had planned. I'm very happy with the evolution of the guys. The fact that Repsol believed in the project and that we've been able to race the whole Raid World Championship season has allowed us to have two riders capable of being in the lead and compete for the final victory."

In which conditions, both physical and psychological do you arrive at the Dakar?

"Psychologically, we are highly motivated, and during our last stage in Montbrio, I made a physical test on the riders to see their condition. They each have their personal trainer, but I just wanted to check, because I hadn't been in charge of that aspect before. I was positively surprised. They know that the better physically prepared they are the more chances they'll have to fight for the victory in such a hard race. They are also technically fit, as well as with regard to navigation. I'll give them all an A."

And what can you tell me about Jordi Duran?

"Jordi has had the luck of having learned a lot and very fast, but we know that he is lacking many races, that is what he hasn't been able to practise so far. He doesn't know the pace of this kind of races and he doesn't know what it means to ride through the desert at 160 km per hour. He still has to learn and we have to help him to grow up. He is a stake for the future, someone we have trained from the very start. We have a base for the future, just in case Marc and Isidre decide to change to cars as well."

Which would be the strengths of Giovanni, Isidre y Marc?

"Gio offers a lot of confidence when it comes to doing his job, i.e. helping and covering the back of his team-mates. He has a very good riding technique allowing him to follow the pace of the riders in the lead. Isidre can be faster than anybody else and he is very constant. In the end, the Dakar is decided between two riders and that is the key point for the final battle. Since the first Dakar he took part in, Marc made clear that this was his preferred terrain. He feels really comfortable and he can be very fast. With what he has learned so far, he has become a 100% complete rider."

But there must be some things to improve...

"There's always something to improve. They have to learn to be patient, to wait for their moment. Especially Isidre would like to win the Dakar on the first day, but reality shows that you win during the second half, although the truth is that you also need to do a good first half."

As the highest sports responsible of the KTM Repsol Team, how do you feel right now, being in Granada and only a couple of hours before entering Africa?

"I'm gathering the tension of the four riders! I have to assume it and make the best out of it, because it's part of my job. I also have to anticipate possible mishaps to be able to solve them as quick as possible."

Is the tension bigger as a technician or as a rider?

"I think that as a technician, because you have the responsibility of four riders and a whole team. But I like my job and I already knew about the pressure. It's different as a rider: there's you and nobody else, you depend on yourself."

What will be your job during the rally?

"I'll basically take care that the riders have everything they need. They have to feel comfortable and secure. I also have to give them all possible information, no matter how little, everything is vital. We sit down together every day before the stage and work on the road book. Small details, but highly important."

Make a bet for the Dakar, both for motorbikes and cars.

"Phew! The victory for a Spanish rider and driver of the Repsol team. That would be my wish, but everybody has to do what he knows best and give his best. If things are done right and with a little luck, you get the expected results."


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Giovanni Sala , Nani Roma , Jordi Arcarons , Jordi Duran