Two Irishmen on the Dakar With his round face and blue eyes, Philip looks fine. In La Serena he casts a calm glance over his first Dakar: "It's very hard, but I like that". When you are Irish, you do not bother with suffering. As such, it is...
Two Irishmen on the Dakar
With his round face and blue eyes, Philip looks fine. In La Serena he casts a calm glance over his first Dakar: "It's very hard, but I like that". When you are Irish, you do not bother with suffering. As such, it is with a small smile of satisfaction and a single sentence that he sums up the terrible night he had during the fifth stage: "I had to return to the starting bivouac to find a spare part with an Argentinean who offered to drive me there and then I spent the rest of the night repairing, there you have it". And that's all he has to say about such a nightmare. Philip Noone, 40 years of age and a doctor when not on the Dakar, set off on this adventure with his biker friend Gary Ennis, 43 years old. They are representing Ireland in the utmost discretion. "Motor-sport isn't very popular where we come from, and we're only a little country with a population of 6 million," explains Gary. Nonetheless, our two friends from Dublin were graced with a visit from the Irish Times during the rest day, but that was all. In a land devoted to football, Gaelic sports and rugby, fans of the Dakar are few and far between. However, they have been preceded by four of their countrymen: Craigie in 1998, Fitzsimon in 1998 and 2000 and McGuire also in 2000. Gary tempted fate in 2005 coming up short only 90 kilometers from Dakar with a broken leg. As regards Philip, he is categorical: "The Argentines are crazy about motor-sports, we should stay here". Gary and Philip arrived in La Serena 106th and 128th respectively.
A big fright for Hardy
Jerome Hardy and Frederic Becart will not be ready to forget the 93-km mark of the 8th special stage in a hurry. They arrived a little too quickly in a bend at the top of a slope, and as a result their Mitsubishi left the track. They honorably managed to limit the damage, but still had to stop and deflate the tires to climb back up onto the track. But that is when things started to get tricky. Jean-Paul Humily, overly aggressive on this bend, lost control of his Bowler: "We heard him first, then he hit a rock and rolled the car, coming straight at us. We had the time to get out of the way but he hit our car. He must have rolled four times before hitting us then four times afterwards," explains Jerome. In addition to a big fright, the duo ended up with a very damaged right-hand side of their vehicle, although they were still able to drive: "We hadn't planned on repairing all that this evening, but it's tough luck, we'll just have to do it. The good news is that with this accident, I think we were on French television!"
A marathon for Florence Migraine-Bourgnon
The only fully feminine crew enrolled in the rally almost found its progress stopped on the formidable stage to Mendoza, when many competitors found themselves confronted with a long chain of dunes that was very difficult to overcome. Florence Migraine-Borgnon and Clemence Joyeux knuckled down to the matter in hand somewhat laboriously but efficiently. However, they then found their way blocked by several trucks stuck in right in the middle of the track. Unable to reach the finishing line in time, they were forced to plead their case with the race stewards in order to carry on the rally with the others: "Today, we resume the race, but it's as if we haven't had a second's rest, since the decision to re-integrate us into the race was only made yesterday. As a result, our Toyota is still in the same state, with plenty of repairs to be done, especially the suspension. We've already had to put up with a marathon of a stage". Since the good news, Florence admits that with an 84-hour time penalty, "there's no more pressure in terms of the general standings. To win, we would have had to arrive in Buenos Aires today". Whilst Clemence, her co-pilot, has not been able to invent a time machine to take them back in time, she developed a rather special way of navigating on the winding tracks of the first Chilean stage: "I'd given so many instructions to turn left or right during the day that I got confused and said, 'hairpin turn, right, in 5 hours' time!' We were in hysterics after that!"
Alain Guehennec, a co-pilot's tale
He is one of the illustrious senior members of the Dakar and yet one of the more discrete. Like the rest of the brotherhood of co-pilots, Alain Guehennec is rarely at the forefront, instead leaving the spotlight to the many drivers that he has accompanied and assisted. On 18 Dakars, this native of Brittany has had 8 different partners. Whilst he has never won the event, he has contributed to winning 6 special stages: 1 with Ambrosino (Peugeot and Citroen), 1 with Wambergue (Peugeot), 3 with De Mevius (Nissan and BMW X-Raid) and finally 1 with Al Attiyah (BMW). Starting as a mechanic for Peugeot in 1987, Guehennec crossed the fence and found himself sitting in the car the following year: "I still wonder why. The first time is still the best. I was totally unstressed and had no idea about what was going to happen," he explains with a smile.
The co-pilot agreed to answer a quick-fire questionnaire about his drivers:
The most impressive? "Al Attiyah and Lartigue".
The craziest? "Al Attiyah, no question".
The funniest? "Henri (Pescarolo)..."
The most competitive? "Al Attiyah, again -- I'm very fond of Nasser".
The one who complained the most? "I'd rather not answer that..."