Series stage 3 focus

Meanwhile, in the Atacama Desert...

Far from the hustle and bustle of the rally and the bivouac, the scouting team is conducting a vital mission to enable each stage to start. The rally hasn't yet reached Jujuy, but they are already in Iquique...

There is in fact a car number 1 on the Dakar. Invisible on the official list of starters, it is however sure to return to Buenos Aires before the best official Volkswagen or X-Raid drivers! And at the wheel of this 4x4 is sat a former winner of the rally, Jean-Pierre Fontenay, accompanied by a former professional co-pilot, Stephane Le Bail. Along with another car and a truck, they form the scouting team and are sent out on the route as scouts to check the accuracy of the road-book, which is written three to four months earlier by the reconnoitring teams. "We travel five days ahead of the rally and each evening we send the alterations to the road-book, which help to complete the initial version and which are given to the competitors," explains Jean-Pierre Fontenay.More often than not, it is due to the difference in weather conditions between reconnoitring and the race that these alterations are required: "For example, the recent rain on the stage 3 route led to streams and rivers overflowing, washing away the tracks. We need to plan a detour for this sort of scenario. It can also happen that due to changing weather, a hazard that was classed as level 1 could be re-assessed to be a level 2 danger". In total, over special stages gobbled up at a speed that would place them in and around the Top 50 of the general standings, in order to try and recreate the conditions that the riders and drivers will face, Jean-Pierre and Stephane send back a dozen notes each evening, but sometimes the alterations can be much more plentiful. On their route, they sometimes also take a special look at certain spots in order to ensure competitors are genuinely aware of dangerous zones, or also in sensitive environmental zones: "For example, in the case of a level 3 danger (the highest level of alert), we sometimes build a cairn on the said of the track, so that the driver and co-pilot are not taken unawares".

-source: dakar

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Series Dakar
Drivers Jean-Pierre Fontenay