The Ickx factor Winner of the Dakar in 1983, Jacky Ickx is back on the Dakar. As an ambassador of the Volkswagen team, the Belgian has come to support and observe the VW Rally-Raid team managed by Kris Nissen. "I'm always keen to come back to...
The Ickx factor
Winner of the Dakar in 1983, Jacky Ickx is back on the Dakar. As an ambassador of the Volkswagen team, the Belgian has come to support and observe the VW Rally-Raid team managed by Kris Nissen. "I'm always keen to come back to the Dakar. I've got plenty of fond memories of it". Memories that date back to when the rally took place in Africa, but this second edition on the other side of the Atlantic is also a delight to the seven times winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours race. "In 1984, already Thierry Sabine had thought about organising a Dakar in South America. Few people can remember, but the idea was already there. This edition is loyal to the tradition and in keeping with the history of the Dakar". But is this enough to tempt the former champion to take part? "Let's keep our feet on the ground -- you can't even imagine being competitive on the Dakar at the age of 65. I did it 15 times, so I've had all the luck in the world. The future belongs to young competitors full of ambition and dreams who want to make it right to the end". Obviously, Ickx is paying special attention to the car race and the fierce struggle within the Volkswagen team. Being the manager of the VW team is an unenviable task: "How do you protect the team's and constructor's interests as well as managing the wishes of the drivers, who are all individualists and who all want to win?"
Un Techo para mi pais
The years pass by and little changes, and so much the better for solidarity in Latin America. Like in Valparaiso last year, the rest day in Antofagasta was an opportunity for the NGO 'Un Techo para mi pais' to present its action and to receive from Etienne Lavigne, Race Director on the Dakar, a cheque for the sum of 112,000 dollars. Represented by Maximiliano Perez, Deputy Social Director for Latin America, the association will use this sum to provide 40 houses to families in need in Argentina. These modest wooden houses, all built to the same plans, with an area of 18 m", will help families in difficulty to take a step towards a better life. "In 2010, we will build 7,500 in Latin America. To do this, we will be calling upon 90,000 young volunteers," explains Maximiliano Perez. The donation made by A.S.O. will also help to set up, in Chile, three school buildings, in Antofagasta and Copiapo.
Michel Boucou, Pascal Paturaud and Jose de Campos will not forget stage 7. They arrived at the bivouac in Antofagasta at 11.00 on the rest day and experienced all that the Dakar has to offer in terms of emotions and thrills along the 600 kilometres linking Iquique to Antofagasta. "After 15 km of the special stage, we came across the Ginaf truck No. 522 which had turned on its side. We stopped to lend a hand," says Pascal Paturaud, co-pilot in the Kerax truck driven by Michel Boucou. Solidarity between trucks was put into practice with the help of Jordi Ginesta and his Mercedes 2635. "We got out a dozen straps to set the Ginaf right and turn it the right way on the slope. It took longer than we thought it would, because Ginesta positioned himself below, went into the soft sand and got his front wheels stuck". After two hours of manoeuvres, the mission was finally accomplished for the three trucks. All that remained was 585 kilometres of a special stage that was not exactly grateful to the efforts of the French competitors. They then had to rely on the help of Michel Saumet's truck to extract themselves from a delicate situation in one of the passes on the stage, around nightfall. "We carried on and we've only slept two hours". Ouch!
Petrobras Lubrax: the total team
The 23rd Dakar for Andre de Azevedo came to a premature close during the Antofagasta to Iquique stage, but the Brazilian driver is far from finished with the race. As the manager of Petrobras Lubrax, along with his brother Jean he supervises the operations of a team that is one of a kind. "We are the only team that has a vehicle enrolled in each category," he explains. It was a long road, marked by the loyalty of its people and sponsors that gave rise to this original set up: "I was the first South American to take part in the Dakar on a bike. It was in 1990. Little by little, we developed a team. In 1997, we enrolled a car and since 1999, I have been driving a truck". The three vehicles generate an interesting level of media coverage because, according to Andre de Azevedo, "we can always present good results in one of the three categories". This is enough to satisfy the media and the sponsors. "We've had the same partners for the last 20 years," reveals Andre, who also underlines the logistical difficulties the organisation entails: "The mechanics have to learn how to share space. In fact, a lot of psychological effort is required to experience a Dakar in this way". As regards the budget, the car, driven by Jean de Azevedo, accounts for 50% of the total, the truck 35% and the bike, ridden by Rodolpho Mattheis, 15 %, an unusual way of sharing that is unique in the long history of the Dakar.