Cordoba, an audience into the Dakar... 100% Hector, 61 years old, is electrician. He would not have missed this for the world. "It's fantastic", he says sitting on his rock, bathed in the clouds of dust he gets every time a contender roars past.
Cordoba, an audience into the Dakar... 100%
Hector, 61 years old, is electrician. He would not have missed this for the world. "It's fantastic", he says sitting on his rock, bathed in the clouds of dust he gets every time a contender roars past. "I mainly came here to see the cars and the trucks." He also took along his wife Dora and his daughter Romina who is 20 years old. "We left yesterday at 11:00 PM from Cordoba. We slept in the car and outdoors as well a bit. And we will be staying till the end." "I would have loved to see Sainz drive by", says the father who is happy to see -- failing Sainz -- the Hummer 'del Americano' and the trucks racing the stage. To reach this edge of the hill that overhangs the finish line of the special stage, they walked several miles on foot starting at the break of dawn. So did Emiliano (24) who works in fish farming and his brother Leonardo (20) who is a vet student, both from Cordoba as well. "We walked 5 miles. We have a small 125cc but it's the quads we like best; pretty impressive." In the enthusiastic audience encouraging any vehicle rushing by, there is Daniel de Mar del Plata, an IT engineer who left -- for a day -- his vacation with a meditation group to come here with Maria Octavia, a former diplomat from Venezuela, or still Erika, a 36-years old business manager; they are all here -- in this colorful audience -- to see those they call "Heroes" race by.
Small but so fast...
Without necessarily producing a morphological analysis of the riders still in the race, Eric Schiano is probably the smaller male biker in the rally. 1m64 and 58kg, the man from the French Provence is doing pretty well in the race and is now ranking 79th in the general standings at the start of the last stage. An all-the-more-honorable performance for the man who is called "tit fourche" - "small fork" just like some man named Cyril Neveu back in the heyday - and who embarked upon the Dakar adventure on a 250cc Sherco. "I'm still here and I'm rather happy about it. It is true that I suffered quite a bit on the faster sections and that I am asking a lot from the engine. But on this Dakar, a small bike has its place." Still the rider had some tough times and moments of doubt. "I often said to myself that I would never finish this Dakar, but that it was tough for the others as well. And then I tought about my family, my friends, and Croco Aventures who is the originator of the project." Coincidence in the rankings, Schiano is right behind tiny little Annie Seel in the general standings who is 1m62 and weighs 54kg.
The Henri Magne Trophy goes to Eric Auge
Eric Auge is racing his first Dakar. His ranking at the end of stage 13 as co-pilot in car 392 might not get him on the cover of sports magazines but he decided to take on an exceptional challenge on this rally-raid with Isidre Esteve, the former biker who decided to move to driving a car after a terrible accident deprived him from the use of his legs. The former mechanic of the KTM team accepted the project and had - of course - to make huge efforts when times were tough: "the first week was a nightmare; we came in at night several times in a row. Most of the time it was 4:00 AM because we had spent so much time in fesh-fesh and sand, says Eric Auge. But there were tons of laughter too!" And it is precisely that kind of spirit that made him the winner of the Henri Magne Trophy - Henri Magne was the former co-pilot to Nani Roma who died in the race two years ago. An interesting turn of events is that it is precisely at the term of the best day of the rally for Catalonia's Nani Roma, who participated in the creation of this Trophy, that Roma himself was invited to hand in the Trophy: "I am certain that Henri Magne is watching us from up there and that he would love to be with us tonight," said Roma, obviously moved, who went on recalling also that "a few years ago, Henri had already thought that the Dakar could relocate to Latin America."