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Yvan Muller: A Whole Different Challenge
Dakar : News from Scrutineering
A new car, a new challenge". After a first conclusive experience next to René Metge last year, Yvan Muller is embarking upon an even more difficult Dakar. It is indeed behind the wheels of a one-seater buggy that the Alsatian showed up at
scrutineering in Lisbon.

"This is a whole different challenge. It's completely different". In addition to driving, the pilot who is used to the production world championship will have to get acquainted with navigation, mechanics and - more importantly - not get stuck in the sand. "I want to finish, that's my only goal. There are 9,500km to do in 15 days. So just wishing to finish the race is already ambitious enough. I want to go beyond what I'm capable of, this is what I'm looking for."

'Semolina' Sticks Like Glue
Etienne Smulevici, a.k.a. Semoule which means semolina in French, did not miss the opportunity to make an entrance on the Dakar accompanied by his co-pilot Gilles Tixador. "Hello ladies", is what he shouted as he draged himself out of his two-seater buggy before shaking the first hands he could find along the way. Hands of the 'old foxes' who had actually rushed to great him.

Record holder in the number of participations and arrivals in Dakar, the spirited 60 year-old says he is "as happy as the first time", adding that he "loves to enjoy these brief moments of reunion before the start". His 'first time' was 26 years ago! When will he stop? To the question, he answers solemnly: "I told my friends and my family that I intended to quit the Dakar adventure as soon as I will have participated...50 times". People laugh around him. When he stops laughing, he tells about his goals: "improving my record of 19 arrivals and being amongst the top 15". This is a closed club he has had no access to... so far.

Bourgnon Ready for the Ocean of Dunes
A few little repairs before hitting the trail.
The head in the electrical wiring, moving with great difficulty in the limited space inside his Off Road buggy, Laurent Bourgnon was pretty busy this afternoon "putting some order in a few electrical wires not in the right position" before the start.

The former skipper remains reassuring: "This was the only problem; no big deal really." With his piercing blue eyes and his craggy face, Laurent Bourgnon explains that "after 15 years at the top of competition" at sea, the ocean of dunes is pure pleasure to him. "The aim is to finish in the best possible health", he says laughing, fully aware of the "limited means" he and his team mate Guy Leneveux have at hand. For this explorer of the unknown, who is not really the ship's boy of the Dakar - it is his sixth participation - the idea is also to "fetch human stories". Not to worry, he also came to the right place for that.
Tiago Monteiro: A Little Bit of Recklessness
Impatiently awaited by most of the people of Lisboa, Tiago Monteiro had a first taste of the Dakar at scrutineering. The former Formula One pilot chose to play it hard for his first raid. He will be driving a one-seater buggy and will have to do it all on his own.

"I cannot imagine that I'm about to start my first Dakar. I think there is a bit of recklessness in not knowing what I should expect. I'll soon realize how crazy this idea was." Mixed emotions for a pilot who is more used to driving on circuits: "It's both very exciting and agonizing because it's the unknown."
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