Dakar : News from Scrutineering
1264 medical consultations in 2007, 53 evacuations, including 50 back to Europe, 53 medical staff mobilized for the 2008 rally including 47 doctors... in the field, the figures of the medical assistance of the Dakar translate into an impressive
structure that is already in place when the scrutineering starts in Lisbon. Each competitor is asked to provide information on their medical history, on who to contact in case of problem, etc.
"During the rally, we have five so-called Tango vehicles following the race, doctors on board helicopters and 18 people on alert at the medical antenna of the bivouac", says Gouram Assathiany, in charge of medical logistics and evacuations. This is not just for the competitors: "The core of our work is the small outbreaks of flue, gastroenteritis or fatigue that hit the people from the assistance team or from the rally organization."
Finally, "we try - to the best of our abilities - to also care for the local population, underlines Gouram Assathiany. And from Smara onwards, we shall donate - at every stage - a large quantity of drugs and medical equipment to the biggest hospital in the region. We should distribute almost 500kg of drugs and equipement."
Ludivine Puy: "I'm also Here for the Difficult Parts!"
At the start of her 4th Dakar, Ludivine Puy has probably never been this ready. There are two reasons to this: this edition of the Dakar will be particularly physical and - more importantly - her bike is much heavier than last year's. Present at the scrutineering sessions today, the young 24 year-old lady was proudly showing her brand new black KTM 690cc, a much more impressive machine than last year's 525.
"I worked a lot on my physical condition this year. I'll have to be able to lift the bike in the sand." And sand there will be plenty this year for the French woman. "Of course, it is harrowing but I'm also here for the difficult parts. I am not doing it to get to the bivouac at 3:00 PM every afternoon.
" Ludivine's aim is still the same: "get to Dakar and finish best woman even if this part will be tough with rivals like Annie Seel or Mirjam Pol". But Puy, who ranked first woman in 2007 also adds "I'm not ready to do anything just to win..."
Toņejo, a Dream Come True... 18 Years Later
Antonio Rodriguez is attending his first scrutineering and checks session, 18 years after his very severe accident on a quad. In 1990, as he was already preparing for the Dakar, Toņejo hit a wall with his quad during a race. He lost the use of his legs but certainly not his will power. Today, he is presenting to the stewards the truck he hopes will take him to Dakar. To him, being here is already a victory:
"Any experienced pilot dreams of taking part in the Dakar. But being here today has a particular flavor for me. This is a dream I have had for many years and it has finally come true." His aim is to finish the rally and prove that people with disabilities can also drive a truck in rallies and in real life.
PKL, Fernando Prades' Prototype
Until 1998, he worked for KTM contributing to the fine-tuning of several bikes of the Austrian manufacturer. The mechanic from Castellon is coming back this year with two prototypes bearing his design and signature. Spain's Arturo Casanova - number 38 - and Chile's Santiago Larroquette - number 66 - will be driving his bikes; there are only 6 of the model in the world right now:
"This is the project I started working on last February based on a KTM 525 engine. I designed and manufactured all the rest." Christened PKL the bike has only been test driven on the Baja Lorca last autumn.
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