“I am an artisan, and when I told my clients that in January I was not there because I was the Paris-Dakar, they googly eyes and took me for a fool. Firstly because this race, it makes people dream, and also because they believe that it’s over, the Dakar … ” By his own admission, José Palacios is a little cracked. But he is not crazy. The bib number 114 stuck on his motorcycle attests that there is still a race rallying France to the capital of Senegal, whose departure was given by his manager, René Metge, December 27, 2012, in Saint-Cyprien, in Pyrenees-Orientales. And they are a hundred competitors, auto categories, motorcycle and truck, hoping to reach the famous Lac Rose, near Dakar, January 9, thereby closing the fifth edition of the Africa Eco Race.
If she claims the legacy of Thierry Sabine, the test is not a Paris-Dakar bis but another race on the same course, created after the departure of South African rally of the famous America. In 2008, following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania, the organizer of the Paris-Dakar, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), decides to cancel the rally, then move the following year to the Argentina. For obvious safety reasons, but also to finance the South American market is much more attractive for sponsors and partners. The rally, which starts in Lima, Peru, Saturday, Jan. 5, no longer the name of Dakar, transformed into brand. Many drivers, including fans who form the bulk of the pack, no longer feel out of place in this new formula, where the atmosphere is more like that of a Tour de France (also organized by ASO) or Grand Prix Formula 1 as the original adventure.
TRIO METGE-AURIOL-Schlesser, A SPORTS CAUTION
“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” The former host country ownership goes Lavoisier and solicit two former winners of the Paris-Dakar, Hubert Auriol (1981, 1983, 1992) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (1999, 2000), proposing the idea of ??starting a new trial. Blocked by a non-competition clause inherited from years of sporting director Dakar (1994-2005), the triple champion was soon forced to leave the new organization.
René Metge, who also won the Dakar three times (1981, 1984, 1986), retrieves the torch, it still stands. Auriol mimics Schlesser and resumes driving. Chugging the young rally is a name. “The first Africa Race, we were 10 competitors, today it is 100″ reflects the Egyptian pilot Abdelhamid Abouyoussef faithful since 2009.
>> See: Africa Eco Race, on the footsteps of Thierry Sabine
The presence of the glorious trio Metge-Auriol Schlesser done much for the credibility of the event, bringing a sporty deposit, a guarantee of reliability in the organization, all of the gold patina of Dakar debut that all participants seek . “The rally in South America is superb,” ??says José Palacios, who rolled on its tracks twice before joining the Africa Race in 2012. “But the spirit there is different, says the driver, there are not the same feel or characters like Metge, Auriol and Schlesser, breathing Africa.”
“NO SOUL TO LIVE TO 300 KM TO ROUND …”
“I did twenty-five Paris-Dakar, it was a great race, but that is part and lives his life in South America, in a framed environment,” says Jean-Louis Schlesser, winner of four editions of the Africa Race. René Metge assures, “we do not have the desire to compete in the Dakar Rally.’s Africa Race was created because we wanted a friendly rally, and Africa, which I think is invaluable, because it ‘ is beautiful and it’s really an adventure. When a guy crosses Mauritania, it passes through areas where there is not a soul at 300 km radius … ”
No competition with the Dakar, but a match in terms of timing that may surprise or annoy some teams with ambitions of the two tests. “That the two rallies take place at the same time is a bit stupid The best drivers do not ask the question. They do not have a choice and go to South America, for reasons of contracts, sponsorship,” said former Austrian champion Heinz Kinigadner. The owner of the KTM team sent its best in Peru and comes on the Africa Race with less sports media that targets the race serves as the backdrop for filming a series featuring the challenge of Austrian actors Tobias Moretti, famous for his role as Commissioner in the series Kommissar Rex, and Gregor Bloeb, which are prepared for a year to mingle with the pack of riders on track to Dakar.
“AWARENESS IS STILL LOW”
Other professional discipline, Portuguese Elisabete Jacinto ensures that its partners have not winced when she chose to leave the South American rally to reach the Africa Race. “For this race grow, you really improve media to attract sponsors and competitors. Awareness is still low but we are here because the atmosphere is great …,” she says.
That the Portuguese had the opportunity to test during the fourth stage, when his vehicle went down after a lurch. “The driver of the truck of the Russian Kamaz team came to help me out, and they brought us back to my truck on all four wheels. Highly appreciate it.” Especially since she will then win the special of the day before his benefactor.
“There is a real camaraderie, and this is mainly due to the organizing team and René Metge, a race director unusual,” says Elisabete Jacinto. Guardian of the temple, the former champion remains at 71, very close to the drivers, congratulating each, providing advice to others, constantly supervising the race for which he drew the line at the end connoisseur. “This is the best week of my life,” will launch in thanks to the Dutch William Martens athletic director came to encourage the passage of a checkpoint at the second stage.
This particular atmosphere evoked by all competitors, also has its source in the presence of many hobbyists, enthusiasts who live their adventure without even thinking to put a brake on the image of the bikers came without assistance and luggage They live and sleep with their racing suit for single garment during the ten days of the event.
Accustomed Rally of Morocco and Tunisia, Guillaume Jorda and Xavier Lormand, restaurateurs, are committed to the last minute, recovering a car in the Team RMA Hubert Auriol. “Doing the Dakar, I thought about it a hundred times, this is the fantasy of all lovers of motorsports,” said Xavier Lormand. “We enjoy. The Africa Race is a serious race, but where no one takes it too seriously,” added his friend. The late fifties, Patrick Poizat also dreaming with open eyes. “Living that’s truly unique,” reflects his wife Catherine, who accompanied the rally. “We feel the motivation and solidarity between competitors, there is no look through because it is unknown,” she insisted, referring those drivers who drive without mechanical fueled.
Suffered a fall and unable to complete the third step, Patrick Poizat has yet believed that the return to reality would be faster than expected. But “the purpose of the organization is to encourage participants to Dakar”, says Thierry Scharff, the head of communications, and the rough was allowed to continue after a day of compulsory rest. With a beautiful time penalty on the clock, but without the risk of being sent home on disqualification. In view of the amount invested (from 10 000 to 17 000 euros per person for commitment fees, not to mention the budget for cars and motorcycles), this benevolence is far from trivial and is the opposite of the usual practice on the South American Dakar, where the costs are three to four times higher.
THE CROSSING OF MAURITANIA SECURE
Strange melting pot between ancient glories to swerve always said, the lack of African professionals and enthusiasts in search of Rose Lake as Orson Welles was his “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane, the Africa Eco Race none the less extreme rally, over a course of a rare requirement for machines as well as men. The safety of drivers and people is a source of constant worry for René Metge, which includes ensuring that crossing Mauritania is secure, at least on the west coast of Africa bordered by Race.
At the medical level, each step is followed by a team of four emergency doctors and four nurses, able to respond in minutes. That did not stop the race to find grieving from the second step by the death of Christian Craff driver, 63, suffered a cardiac arrest in the dunes, Sunday, Dec. 30 at the special between Boudnib and Tagounite . The announcement of the drama was suspended for a moment the hum of the camp, before the adventure resumes its rhythm.
The challenge for Africa Eco Race is now growing in his soul and maintaining balance. “We segregate when the event will be profitable in financial terms, which is not far from being the case,” says René Metge, while Jean-Louis Schlesser approves advocating for “reasonable intelligent test, made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. ” As José Palacios, who does not doubt for a second the future of the race which was new with the old: “The true Dakar spirit is here with this band of nomads who cross the desert on crazy machine . the Africa Race is the rebirth of Dakar. Nobody can stop now. “…
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