After the cancellation of the Dakar
Due to a direct terrorist threat made against the 2008 Dakar, the organisers, in conjunction with the French government, took the difficult decision yesterday to cancel the event the day before the first Portuguese special stage.
Despres : “To say I am disappointed would be something of an understatement. After months of preparation and planning, it is very hard to accept that we finally won't be going to Dakar – especially as I was so looking forward to defending my title and was so in form. That said, I entirely support ASO's decision. They are an extremely professional and well informed organisation, and if they felt they had no choice but to cancel the event, then I am sure they did so for very good reasons.”
“Although it is a huge personal blow, I am fully aware that for others the situation is much worse. As a professional racer I will have other opportunities to enter and win races. For the privateers, some of whom have mortgaged their houses for a once in a lifetime adventure, it is quite simply a disaster. But without doubt the people most seriously affected are the populations of the countries we had planned to visit. ASO has a policy of spending as much money locally as possible and so economically it will be extremely hard for them. Long term the situation is even more serious. Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal all depend heavily on tourism and the cancellation of the Dakar is bound to have a huge impact on this vital sector of their economies.”
“For my part, I have decided to honour my own humanitarian obligations.
I will go to Dakar to inaugurate the new school as planned on 20 January and will also make sure that the ??? kilos of school material that I had brought to Lisbon will reach their intended destination. Prior to that I will be having a good look at the 2008 racing calendar and seeing what events I can add to my schedule. KTM have made it very clear that they will continue in rally raid, and I am more than ‘ready to race'…”
“Finally, despite a difficult start to the 2008 season, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my sponsors for their continued support and to wish all of you a very happy new year.” All the best!