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Andre Dessoude and his team of Champions
To take the start of the 30th edition of the Dakar
To celebrate the 30th edition of the Dakar, and its 26th participation, Team Dessoude will be entering no fewer than nine crews on this legendary event. Champions and more Champions, from all countries and all areas of sporting
achievement? Four of these crews hold an extraordinary 11 world and Olympic titles between them. But as well as their credentials, the common factor which attracted Andr頄essoude is their exceptional fighting spirit. A vital skill to reach the end of the challenge that the Dakar represents. This year, Team Dessoude will also be notable for its wide geographical diversity. The nine crews include four from France, three from China, one from Russia and ? the big surprise ? one from Angola. Diversity will be the key?

A look at the crews?
A regular with the Saint-L?am, Christian Lavieille, the former Endurance Motorbike World Champion and production class winner of the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies in 2006, will be behind the wheel of the N05 with which he won the Rally of the Pharaohs last October, and finished second in the Rally of Tunisia. His aim is to be among the outsiders, and to be ready to take any opportunities that might come along.

Carole Montillet is extremely persistent, and has signed up to take part in her second Dakar with Team Dessoude. The Olympic Downhill Skiing Champion will share her car, as usual, with M鬡nie Suchet, Junior Downhill Skiing Champion. Their aim is to reach the Rose Lake with a Pathfinder T1.

A real newcomer to the world of Cross-Country, making his debut, is Brahim Asloum. And yes, the Olympic Boxing Champion, the recently crowned WBA light flyweight World Champion, has chosen to set himself a new challenge, far from the boxing ring. He will face this new task with plenty of motivation and a lot of curiosity. Brahim's navigator will be Patrick Antoniolli, who knows both Africa and the Dakar well. This experience will be extremely important in order for them to reach their goal : to finish the event in their Production category Pathfinder.

And more Champions? The crew made up of Jean-Pierre Strugo and Jean Brucy are not to be counted among the rookies. A five-time winner of the production category of the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, Jean-Pierre Strugo is aiming for the top, and hopes to win his category. Jean Brucy, a extremely experienced former biker, who drove alongside the much- missed Richard Sainct for many years, will be in charge of the navigation. On the top of their form, this crew is a safe bet.

Also in the Production category, Andr頄essoude will be able to count on the Russian duo of Dimitry Pavlov - Sergey Bosko. Very experienced in the T2 category, this team could create a surprise. They will also be in a Pathfinder.

The Chinese team Zhenghzou, remaining faithful to Team Dessoude, will enter two cars, two Oting from the Dongfeng manufacturer. The first will be in the hands of Zhou Yong (19th in 2005) with Sylvain Poncet, while the second will be entrusted to the Angolan team of Carlos Oliveira and Jose Carlos Madaleno. It might seem a surprising choice, but considering that Dongfeng is building a gigantic factory in Angola, this is a good opportunity to promote the project on the international stage.

The second Chinese Team will be Team Honghe. The young Chinese prodigy Xu Lang will be back in action, having finished his first Dakar in 19th position overall back in 2006. Xu will once again share his vehicle with Fabian Lurquin. The duo, who know each other well, need to take their Pickup 03 all the way to Dakar. As for the second crew, it will be a first Dakar experience for HUA Qingxian and TIAN Chuannan, who will drive a Pathfinder T1.

Words from the ? Boss ??
? I am always proud of my team, but perhaps I am slightly more proud than usual this year. We will have a mix of rookies and experienced drivers, but they are all extremely motivated. For me, this is a fundamental quality to succeed in a project like this, where you often have to dig deep down inside to find the will needed to continue the adventure. Our crews have different objectives, but our wish is that all should reach Dakar.

I am very happy that Brahim Asloum will be with us. Our joint project started two months ago, and I was particularly taken by him as a person. He has, like all top sportsmen and women, that incredible determination which makes a Champion. Brahim is very brave to be taking on this challenge, as he is a real beginner, but I trust him, as I did Carole and M鬡nie last year.

In the Production category, we will have three Pathfinders. With Strugo and Brucy, we have a ?solid' team whose aim will be to win the T2 class. Jean Brucy's arrival is an extremely positive element, and his talents complement those of ?JP'. The Russian crew could surprise us all, as they are very capable. Finally, Brahim and Patrick Antoniolli will be able to count on plenty of advice from their team-mates in order to help them reach the Rose Lake. Just like a boxing match, you need to face the Dakar round by round, or rather stage by stage.

In T1, we will have some very different crews. The N05 of Christian and Fran篩s will definitely be among the outsiders. Our aim is to be placed between 7th and 10th position when we reach Dakar, which would not be too bad considering that they will be up against the armada of factory teams. We have worked on the car since our victory in Egypt, with a big test session at the Creusot. We have improved the suspensions as much as possible, and have gained some top speed.

I am also counting on the Pickup 03 of Xu Lang to put in a good race. This talented young driver, along with Fabian Lurquin, could finish well as long as he controls his youthful high spirits.

As for the ?girls', the aim is simple : to reach Dakar. I was disappointed for them last year, as they had worked hard. They have gained some more experience since then, most notably in Egypt where they got to know the Pathfinder T1, and I am confident that they will do the rest.

The Dongfeng Oting cars, just like the third Chinese crew, will aim to finish the event. Their job will be to manage their place in the pack at the start of the rally as best as they can, and to show patience in order to avoid all the potential traps. Because one thing is certain : This 30th edition of the Dakar will be far from easy to manage.

The route will not be easy, for the competitors and service vehicles alike. From Smara to Kiffa, the Dakar will be the all sand. Nearly seven days of sand, which can make all the difference and spread the competitors out. I would therefore recommend that our crews be patient. With patience and calm to get them through these difficulties, they can then be nearly assured of reaching Dakar. Our aim will be to avoid problems, and when we get to Kiffa, we'll see where we are in the classification. I am confident, even if managing all these people every day will not be easy??
Come along?
Like every year, Team Dessoude will put on a show for its faithful fans in Saint L? The ?troupes' will be on parade through the town centre on December 22nd at 18:00. An event not to be missed, either by the enthusiastic crowds or the crews. A privileged moment for those who love the Dakar but who cannot go along for the ride. It will also be an opportunity to collect exercise books and pens for the African villages. Even if Andr頠Dessoude never mentions his initiative, the schoolchildren of Saint L?ave been actively taking part in his collection for African schoolchildren for many years.
Team Dessoude

     Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin
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     Joan 'Nani' Roma (Spain)
     Luc Alphand (France)
     Steane Peterhansel (France)
     Pajero/Montero Evolution
     Refined Volkswagen Race Touareg is ready for Dakar

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