TEAM REPSOL KTM PASSES CHECKS IN LISBON Marc Coma, Jordi Viladoms and Giovanni Sala ready for the start of the big African challenge The start of the Dakar is getting closer, the countdown is just about to end and in a couple of days the riders...
TEAM REPSOL KTM PASSES CHECKS IN LISBON
Marc Coma, Jordi Viladoms and Giovanni Sala ready for the start of the big African challenge The start of the Dakar is getting closer, the countdown is just about to end and in a couple of days the riders will be facing the first special stage on Portuguese grounds. This afternoon, the riders of the Team Repsol KTM have passed the previous document and technical checks of their KTM 690 Rally bikes with which they are going to race the 2007 Lisbon Dakar Rally, at the Belem Cultural Centre, located at the Plaza do Imperio square behind the impressive Dos Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.
Jordi Viladoms, Giovanni Sala and the winner of the last Lisbon Dakar Rally, Marc Coma, joined at all times by Jordi Arcarons, went first through the sporting checks --visas, medical insurance, knowledge of the GPS and Tripmaster use, etc. - and then passed safely the technical checks of their bikes. Constantly accompanied by a large crowd of local spectators and Spanish fans who travelled to the Portuguese capital to watch the start of the Africa Raid that will start next Saturday (January 6th), the three Repsol riders and Jordi Arcarons completed all previous duties while meeting journalists at the scrutineering facilities and complying with the constant requests for pictures and autographs.
After the checks, the riders have taken their bikes to the parc fermé located at the Plaza do Imperio square, where they will remain until next Saturday (January 6th). The first bike will start from the parc fermé at 6.30 a.m. to take the start of the first special of the 2007 Lisbon Dakar Rally at 8.35 a.m., local time. The first leg, from Lisbon to Portimao, will include a 115 Km liaison, a 117 Km timed section and a further liaison of 260 Km, making up a total of 492 Km. After this first leg, participants will still have 7,423 Km to reach Dakar.
"As always, the checks have been long, but fortunately I have a great team and a large part of the work is already done. That's something to be very thankful because the checks are always long and complicated, they ask for a lot of papers and it's very easy to forget something. The bike has worked well the whole year. It's almost the same one we used in Dubai and I'm very happy about how it has been working so far. But the final test has begun. We could say that we have been learning a lot and that the intermediate tests have gone well but now it's the moment of truth. This year the race is somehow strange and different because I've been able to spend New Year 's Eve at home. In former editions we were already racing and the first day of the year was just another day. But this year we celebrated at home and I ended up enjoying the evening with Nani Roma and other friends."
"We were already looking forward to being here and now we've already passed the most annoying part, the checks. We'll be more relaxed tomorrow at the briefing and then we'll set off to Africa. The checks are always long because there are a lot of things to be done, but now it's over. The truth is that it's like getting a big weight of you're back because everything worked out well, and both the scrutineering and the sporting checks went well right away. Now we have a couple of days ahead which will not decide much for the classification, but we'll have to be very careful and wait until Morocco, where we will have to take it easier, to start pushing in the race.
"Everything is OK, I'm relaxed. We've finished all preliminary operations, so now we can focus on the race. Everything went quite well, there haven't been any big problems so now we can concentrate in what we have ahead. Tomorrow we'll have the briefing in which they will tell us the last details. There is an excellent atmosphere in the team and the most important is to get along well with everybody, the mechanics, the team manager and that's something positive. Therefore I think that we're starting with a good base. The fact of being relaxed, without major problems and having fun in the team is something I like a lot, so everything is going perfectly well. Let's think about Africa and the race."