Diguiet in the dust
For his third Dakar, Gilles Diguiet has made it his mission to "prove that the 2009 result was not a stroke of luck". For his first time, he was amongst the last ones to reach Buenos Aires but he was proud of having reached the end of the rally raid. After failing to do the same in 2010, it might very well be that he ends up in a situation he has already experienced before. The long list of issues that forced him to ride for a part of the night on special stage 6 are indeed pushing him down the depths of the standings. "Being at the bottom of the pack, I was forced to drive real slow to take shelter from the cars and trucks passing me. The trail being in ruin when I reached it, I almost drove off-road for 400 km on stage 6. So I got to the fesh fesh section at night fall; I could not see anything: the dust was like a curtain in the headlight and I was unable to follow the roadbook leading back to the trail. So I stopped, tweaked a bit and fell asleep. When I woke up, I stopped a car; they accepted to guide me and wait for me to get out of this area. The worst part is that there was only about 100 m before I was back on safer and faster ground, the last 18 km leading up to the finish line of the special stage!" Crushed when he handed in his card, Gilles waited for the early morning hours to get back on his bike and drive the liaison section to Arica, where his mid-race track record remains positive: "I am fairly happy; I did not panic and I did not burn too much strength. But more importantly, I did not even fall once!"
Boris, the man who sings in the special stages
This is the toughest race in the world but all he is talking about is fun and dreams. Boris Garafulic is a Dakar first-timer and after the first week he is ranking 15th in the general standings and - more importantly - he is also the best rookie. His status does not impress this marketing engineer who came to the Dakar quietly, almost fleeing his father's successful past in track racing. "The Dakar is something personal for me. I am here from my own free will; just because I like racing and for afficionados like me, this race is a dream." The fact of the matter is that Boris Garafulic is bringing the house down, almost effortlessly. His explanation is disarmingly honnest: "If you do things seriously, results will follow. I believe that the gravest mistake for an amateur is to pretend to know everything." So Boris is learning with the likes of Nani Roma, a man he is ahead of in the standings but who nevertheless provides him with tricks and guidance: "We laugh, we talk, it's really great." Convinced that even a Dakar is won by believing, competitor nr 330 is also finding out about media pressure. His good results have attracted all Chilean media. "Actually, I don't care. I just want to keep enjoying this community of racing fans I am finding out about. Of course, sometimes the race is hard but most of the time, I surprise myself singing because I am having such a great time." Maybe a singing victory does lie ahead for Boris?
Isabelle Patissier, here we go again!
Her first words are for the audience and the enthusiasm that can be experienced around the Dakar in Latin America: "The enthusiasm is huge. It is so nice to be able to share your passion. People are interested; they ask if they can take pictures and everybody is there from the kids to the grandparents. At gas stations it's just crazy." Happy about this new life for the Dakar, Isabelle Patissier is pleased about her own performance. 17th in 2009, the former world rock climbing champion has forgotten her withdrawal of 2010 and embarked upon a brand new project: "We have a rear-wheel drive buggy; it is lighter, easier to steer, a top performer." Ranking 23rd in Calama after stage 4, Isabelle Patissier is driving at a good pace but she had a tough day en route to Iquique, finishing after a lot of mechanical problems at 2:00 AM after losing almost 6 hours. "But now, we are back in the race; we are already 41st." Indeed, Isabelle Patissier and her copilot Thierry Delli-Zoti are not giving up on their ambitions. Finishing 20th of the Arica special stage, the only female driver in the car category is still in the race.