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The goal is to win for Esteve and Despres
Dakar : Administrative checks & scrutineering (Day 2)
Maybe the biggest transfer before the start of this Dakar was that of Isidre Esteve (KTM – n°3) moving from KTM-Repsol to KTM-Gauloises. The Spaniard will indeed be sharing the French team's race leadership with title
holder Cyril Despres. Esteve showed up for scrutineering delighted by his new bike and team. “The bike is lighter to adapt to the new rules and that helps my riding. The goal is to win. I'm lucky enough to have David Casteu as a support rider and it really is a luxury because he's a very fast biker. He probably will never be more than 10 minutes behind me”.

Cyril Despres: “To win, and nothing else…”
Before Stephane Peterhansel tomorrow, the fans massed around the tents set up for scrutinering were able to finally see the first title holder of the dakar: Cyril Despres (KTM – n°1) winner of last year's bike race. In spectacular fashion, the KTM-Gauloises team showed up together on the parking lot with their leader Despres already keen to show his colours. The Frenchman will be riding alongside his compatriots Michel Gau and David Casteu but also another race favourite: Isidre Esteve. “I'm delighted to be here and impatient to start the race. All the preparation has been done and well done. The bike is lighter, we got rid of a fuel tank and the saddle is closer to the ground to lower our centre of gravity. On a physical point of view, we've all worked well and I feel in great shape. We have a brand new team set for victory and nothing else. Concerning myself, I want to do what I do best: riding a bike. I'll take it day by day but my goal is really to claim victory.”



Andy Caldecott: “Unbelievable to be here”
Probably the biggest smile of these first two days of scrutineering was that of Andy Caldecott. Surprisingly enough, the Aussie who finished 6th of last year's event failed to find enough sponsors to compete in the 28th edition. Far from imaging that he would be on the start line of the 2006 Euromilhoes Dakar just a month ago, the Australian got an unexpected phone call from Jordi Arcarons, team manager of the KTM Repsol team. “Jordi called me at home to tell me that Jordi Duran had injured himself and asked me if I was interested at joining the team for the Dakar. I couldn't believe it and it really feels great to be back”. Well satisfied of this late entry, Caldecott doesn't quite yet want to talk about his ambitions. “I'm just here to be a support rider for Coma, Sala and De Gavardo. I'll be there to help out if necessary. We'll just have to wait and see for the overall and possible stage wins!”

Ronn Bailey: “Eager to start battling”
Ronn Bailey discovered the rally last year. He however failed to make it out of Morocco but more than ever he remains fascinated by the Dakar. This year again, he prepared a very ambitious program, asking Philippe Gache to design him a perfectly adapted buggy. “I'm so happy to be here. We can finally say that we're all set. The car is both reliable and powerful, and thanks to Philippe Gache, I managed to improve my driving skills. Last year I said that I dreamt of a place in the leading 20. I was far from reality but this year I really believe we can manage something good. And why not be the first American to one day win the Dakar. Anyhow, I'm eager to take off.”

Gerard De Rooy: “We really have a good chance”
For his fourth Dakar, Gerard de Rooy, son of Jan (winner in 1987) has a strong intention of adding a triumph to his family's glorious record. On the podium of the 2004 edition, Gerard seems to be the strongest rival to compete with the Russian Kamaz trucks. Last year, he lost all hopes of victory after crashing in the early stages of the rally. “We're really eager to start the race because we believe we have good chances of success. Our new trucks are different to those of last year. We have worked in order to make them more reliable, especially concerning the suspensions that have gave us worries in 2005. The test drives we went through in June in Morocco and early December in Château-Lastour were very promising. We are therefore very confident, especially because the new navigation rules could help us out…”

Chris Blais: “Aiming at the podium”
A newcomer last year on the Dakar, young Chris Blais proved to be a very promising rider indeed. The soon to be 25-year-old flew to an excellent 9th position overall. With more experience and with the support of KTM USA, the American will be part of a two-man team alongside Andy Grider who recently captured third spot of the Tunisia rally. The team however was forced to cope with the late withdrawal of Kellon Walch, recently injured, who had clocked the fastest time of last year's final stage around the Lac Rose. The US bikers will also be helped out by the KTM-Repsol official team and have high expectations for this 28th edition. “I hope to make it on the podium in Dakar. I know a lot more about the race and have gained in experience. I definitely want to win some stages this year. It's also great to have the support of KTM Repsol but we have no team orders. We just want to learn even more and we'll be following guys like Despres and Coma. Despres managed to win the event after learning from champions like Sainct and Meoni.”
Press Release Amaury Sport Organisation


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