Thrills at every level Pablo Busin, an Argentinean rookie and number 81, throws a sweeping glance over the crowds massed behind the barriers. His voice trembling slightly, he admits his appreciation: "Now I can really see just what a big event...
Thrills at every level
Pablo Busin, an Argentinean rookie and number 81, throws a sweeping glance over the crowds massed behind the barriers. His voice trembling slightly, he admits his appreciation: "Now I can really see just what a big event it is -- in fact it's truly international. I'm rubbing shoulders with Japanese, French and Australian competitors. What strikes me is that we are all in the same boat here, whether amateur or professional, at the foot of the podium". The concern of the Prohens brothers, who have already braved the Dakar once, is just as emotional but more personal: "Since we are brothers we want to start on our bikes together from the podium". On this day of such intense emotions, they are choosing to speak from the heart, a bit like France's Gilles Diguiet, biker number 90, who is proudly waving an Argentinean flag: "The crowds are wonderful. Personally, I want to give them something back in return. It's so moving!" As the PA blares into life, the vehicles rev up. The presenter is having trouble curbing her enthusiasm: "Welcome to Mister Dakar: Stephane Peterhansel!!!" Before they get down to the nitty-gritty, the competitors meet and talk. Some of them even give a tour of their machines to their direct rivals: Robby Gordon was seen showing off his Hummer to Carlos Sainz, who seemed very interested in the car's suspension. Orlando Terranova was not able to achieve such a level of relaxation: devouring piece after piece of chewing gum he remains rooted in his cockpit, already concentrated on the race, showing that for some the thrills are already turning into pressure.
Enthusiastic crowds in Buenos Aires
Ricardo, 21 years old, comes from Aracaju, in Brazil. He doesn't know much about the Dakar, apart from that it was a race held in Africa previously. Yet, here he is watching these magnificent machines roll by, a motor sport moment during his holiday in Argentina. He is in amongst the hustle and bustle on the Avenue of 9th July, where many come with their families to see the grand spectacle that is the Dakar. The Nunez Guerreros, for example, watched the parade on television last year, but this year they made the journey. Liliana and Jose have come with their daughter Agostina, 15 years old, from the town of Vicente Lopez. What they like is to soak up the atmosphere with these champions from far off countries: "We are playing host to an international event", says Liliana, just like someone appreciating an unexpected privilege. "Last year, I couldn't come", says Silvio, 37 years old, a little further on. You can hear the regret in his voice, but this time he was ultra-motivated, and has brought his daughter, Ivana, and son-in-law, Emiliano, as well as a friend, Francisco, and not forgetting their wives, Karina et Norma. "We wanted to get a close look at these riders, drivers and their machines. For the rest of the race, we'll watch on TV". Gripping a barrier, young Rodrigo, 12 years old, is only waiting for one thing: the blue cars that were triumphant last year. His father, Rubens and older sister Florencia, have come with him to. Just like often in the race, in the crowds the Dakar is a family affair.
The podium 'on the box'
Whilst 300,000 spectators came to watch the competitors parade through the streets of Buenos Aires, the number of people who watched this presentation on television should total tens of millions. In any case, this was the belief of the Argentinean channels who devoted significant resources to broadcasting the starting ceremony. Three national channels, including Tele Pulica Canal Siete, as well as continent-wide broadcaster Fox Sports, consecrated more than four hours of live programmes to allow motor sports fans to follow the entire event. To provide the most information and images possible, 12 cameras were used by the holders of the rights for this race, showing a whole host of interviews with competitors, organisers and team managers. Two mobile studios have been set up to welcome guests in front of the podium. In all, 105 technicians, journalists and consultants took part in producing this exceptional programme. More than ten thousand kilometres away, Eurosport viewers were also able to see the first action during an hour long programme, with France Televisions even going as far as devoting its daily sports programme 'Tout le sport' to the start of this 32nd edition.
A lovely pair...
Obviously, each year the Dakar brings together the cream of rally-raid riders and drivers. Yet it also attracts the finest of feminine beauty! On the starting podium, the Czech competitors had the privilege of being welcomed by two of their illustrious countrywomen. Tatiana Kucharova, Miss World in 2006, and Aneta Vignerova, Miss Czech Republic in 2009, travelled to Buenos Aires to encourage their country's representatives in the rally. Biker Martin Macek was the first lucky man to receive a good luck kiss from these two dream-like damsels, who left after having greeted the crew made up of Dusan Kunovsky and Libor Latinak, enrolled in the car category.