Dakar : Mitsubishi Motors - Rest day
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's small army of mechanics and engineers left nothing to chance on the Valparaiso rest day of the 2009 Dakar Rally in Chile on Saturday.
They spent the whole day in the service park, at the naval
college overlooking the Pacific Ocean, checking and double-checking every nut and bolt on Joan 'Nani' Roma's (Spain) turbo-diesel 'Racing Lancer' to ensure that he and co-driver Lucas Cruz Senra (Spain) will be perfectly prepared for the second half of the event, which resumes on Sunday morning.
Crucial mechanical components were replaced by the technical team, as per the rebuild schedule for rest day, because Mitsubishi's hopes of an eighth successive Dakar title now rest with the sole-surviving 'Racing Lancer'.
Thousands of people have lined the roads, highways and town centres over the past week to greet the rally, with an estimated 500,000 people seeing the cars off from Buenos Aires on January 2nd and large crowds gathering in remote towns such as Puerto Madryn and Ingeniero Jacobacci.
Valparaiso was no exception and the Chilean people have welcomed the Dakar with the same warm hospitality as the Argentineans.
Valparaiso translates as Paradise Valley in Spanish and is fondly referred to as Valpo in local dialect. It is an important seaport for Chile and a vital cultural centre, housing the National Congress and also benefiting from being named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is prone to earthquakes and was named 'Little San Francisco' or the 'Jewel of the Pacific' by ancient sailors.
Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the first of the four special stages in Chile, as the route of the 2009 Dakar Rally heads north along the Pacific Coast to an overnight halt at La Serena. The day commences with a 245km liaison through La Calera and El Melon to the start of the 294km special stage and culminates with a 113km road section to the bivouac.
La Serena is a commune in the Elqui Province and capital of the Coquimbo region of Chile.