Ready for the 2009 edition of the DaKar
Three day prior to the start of the rally, the Argentine side of the scrutineering has started. The mission of the race stewards is to check the conformity of vehicles and see if it matches the rules for those who had not yet done
so in Le Havre. The contenders – already thrilled by the first part of their stays – are now impatient to discover the rest of the continent.
The countdown is ticking slowly toward the start of the rally raid; the wheels have not yet turned for the start of the 2009 edition of the Dakar. But people are already talking about excitement and fascination. Out of the 100km or so between Delta Rock and the La Rural Exhibition Park where the second round of scrutineering is happening, the competitors already had several opportunities to enjoy the thrilling atmosphere that is now gaining the country.
A lot of them had chosen to arrive a little earlier in the southern hemisphere: the most insatiable meat eaters of them all relished at eating “bife de chorizo”, these huge slices of beef served in all restaurants in Buenos Aires; the most careful of them decided to take some margin to adapt to the jetlag and the tourists strolled down the colorful streets of the Boca area or tasted a nice and fresh Quilmes on a terrace in San Telmo.
No matter why, all were conquered by the preparation and expressed nothing but enthusiasm when the time of the last formalities came. “First, I tried the car, then I tried the meat”, nevertheless clarifies Carlos Sainz who is focused on his aim: the final victory.
The scrutineering of the participants – mainly organized for the technical scrutineering of the vehicles from the American continent – allowed the Porteños to catch a glimpse of some of the favorites in the race who had been summoned on this first day. In the bike category, France's David Casteu, flanked by his new team mate, Chile's Francisco Lopez, successfully passed this first test.
It was also the case for the BMW X-Raid Team with its top drivers Nasser Al Attiyah and Guerlain Chicherit, and of truck title holder Hans Stacey, who is more concerned with his recently injured wrist than with the technical and admin scrutineering.
Expected in the mid afternoon, the gems of the Mitsubishi team however asked for their scrutineering to be differed. Wishing to take a new series of tests on the brand new Lancer of Peterhansel, Alphand, Roma and Masuoka, Dominique Serieys asked the organizers to slightly postpone their scrutineering appointment: “At the shake-down session in Le Creusot, the temperature was 2°C. The cars being packed with electronics, we had to change some parameters that are sensitive e.g. to temperature differences, height or fuel, which is not exactly the same here. This is why we went test driving the cars on the Buenos Aires test track today”, explains the boss of the squad that has a track record of 12 success on the Dakar.
So New Year's Eve will be studious and busy for the pilots of the Japanese manufacturer who now have an appointment in the morning for the administrative scrutineering. In the afternoon, their cars might cross paths for the first time with their main rivals from Volkswagen, i.e. Sainz and De Villiers as well as Robby Gordon's Hummer. The last two winners in the bike category, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, will also have the opportunity of chatting along the 9,500km of road and trail that await them. But one thing is sure: they will certainly not reveal their strategies to one another…