Dabrowski, a man with great support Six months ago, Marek Dabrowski would never have imagined taking part in the Dakar in the bike category and he would have less imagined ranking 36th two stages from the end of the rally raid. A bad shoulder ...
Dabrowski, a man with great support
Six months ago, Marek Dabrowski would never have imagined taking part in the Dakar in the bike category and he would have less imagined ranking 36th two stages from the end of the rally raid. A bad shoulder injury ironically obtained after riding the sand dunes of Copiapo in 2007 brought true ordeal on the Polish rider. "I underwent a first surgery before getting an infection and needing five more rounds of surgery. The bone of my shoulder was atrophied," recalls the man who finished the Dakar ninth in 2003. He had then to undergo more bone injections, endless pain and - more importantly - a long dark period that seemed never-ending. "I went to see specialists in Russia, Austria, the US. For all of them, there was no solution. I paid 600$ to be told that I was condemned to never racing bikes ever again." He tried one last thing last june and went to Montpellier to see Dr. Tessier, a shoulder specialist. Two weeks later, he was on the operating table for the installing of a titanium prosthetis and "two days later I had no paind, I could do away with the drugs I was taking to kill the pain." Cured at last, he hopped right back on his bike and with as litte preparation as he had, he could start the Dakar. "I am not at my best but I am here. Vive la France and thank you!"
Sponsorts and partners right at the heart of the Dakar action
The Dakar is a true communication platform and provides its partners with exceptional media visibility. It also allows developing many marketing events geared towards customers. hence, more than 100,000 promotional goods and products have been distributed in Buenos Aires - right at the heart of the Dakar Village -, have been handed in to the 110,000 visitors present in La Rural, or even in the start podium area at the foot of the Obelisk where some 300,000 spectators had gathered. Large companies are sponsors of the event: e.g. Total, Personal, Arcor, Watts, Accor, Red Bull, Michelin with BF Goodrich, Henkel with Loctite, Red Bull, LAN, etc... Volkswagen, that is in the front line on the track with its Race Touareg team, aimed right as well in terms of communication and marketing as it used the Dakar to launch its brand new pick-up truck called Amarok. And in the logistical challenge it is each day, the Dakar also managed to involve its sponsors and partners; indeed, Sodexo serves 2,000 meals each day, Personal provides all cell phones, Total provides the fuel and VW, the organization's vehicles.
Sunstroke on the finish line
Eduardo Alan already had quite a lot to talk about after his first Dakar, the one he raced last year... He went to the very end of his personal limits on one of the toughest stage of last year's edition of the Dakar and arrived alone and lost at the Mendoza bivouac already plunged in darkness. The poor soul - lost amidst cables and tents scattered in the admin zone - he was looking for a way to have his stage validated. Yesterday, it is under the hottest of suns that he got to the special stage finish with his pal Federico Cola... and he was not doing much better. Both had a hard time in the middle of the second stage due to a silly gas problem. "At km 70, at mid stage, we had problems with our fuel tanks. Both of us... we had to stop several times. It was so hot! My chain punctured my left rear tank," explains Eduardo. In the shade of a CH Finish bus, Federico asked for water... then food. Then Eduardo fainted. He came around to the shouts of the crowds. "Vamos Eduardo! Vamos Eduardo!", shouted the spectators while Eduardo was lying there and being sprayed with water by the medical services. 100 meters further, both pals stopped to refuel. Federico repaired both bikes with great difficulties. Eduardo then gave in to the doctor's order and stopped. "OK take the pressure." Which pressure: the tire pressure or his blood pressure? Nobody really knows what counts anymore for a Dakar contender... the man or the machine. 19:04... Nr. 138 and nr. 70 started their liaison heading for San Rafael. Together... just like in the sand dunes.
Crowds in the middle of nowhere
One might think that crowds are only for big presentations like in Buenos Aires on January 1st when cars are all shiny and new and everyone is feeling great be it the spectators in their nice looking clothes or the contenders on their best and fittest behavior. But somewhere between Mendoza and San Rafael almost 10,000 people came and contradicted this first impression. Defying the dust and the sun, some had been there for over 2 days in order not to lose any part of the raid. The sand was not an issue, neither were the thorny bushes; in this improbable no man's land improbable, the passion for the Dakar came first over and above all the rest. Every far away cloud of dust made people burst in shouts of enthusiasm and run to get a better view of the passing vehicle. Just like the Lopez, Maron, or Baltolini families, people came in large groups: "I am impressed by the trucks and the Hummers", says young Barraco. Young children are sat on the bikes refueling just for a quick picture with a cell phone. Everywhere tent-like structures have popped out of the group as shelters from the sun. On the 100m that were fenced out for TV interviews, the fences and the security service played a symbolic role more than anything else. The crowd called Carlos Sainz, rushed onto the car of Orlando Terranova, made a "hola" for the two first trucks to get to the finish line, i.e. the Kamaz of Kabirov and Chagin. And suddenly the middle of nowhere became the center of the universe.