Dakar : Administrative checks & scrutineering (Day 3)
The Belem Cultural Centre hosts for the third and final day, the administrative checks and scrutineering of the Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar 2006. After the Volkswagen armada yesterday, the Portuguese fans and the media will
be welcoming the Mitsubishi squad with their title holder Stephane Peterhansel. The six-time Dakar winner will take off on Saturday alongside prestigious team mats such as Luc Alphand, second last year, Hiroshi Masuoka, a winner in 2003, Nani Roma, bike winner in 2004 and Andrea Mayer. Also expected today: the BMW X-Raid team and the Schlesser buggies.
Concerning the bikes all eyes will turn to Frenchman David Frétigné on his Yamaha. In the truck race, Karel Loprais, also a six–time winner of the event will be driving his Tatra truck into the scrutineering parking lot. A question mark remains concerning the DAF trucks of De Rooy father and son that failed to go through administrative checks yesterday and are still waiting for a precious FIA licence.
Nasser Al Attiyah: “Nothing to do with last year's BMW”
The first big guns to show up on the parking lot of scrutinering were the BMW X-Raid boys… Four vehicles with the clear intention to worry the Mitsubishi and Volkswagen teams. Probably the fastest and most promising of the X-Raid drivers, Nasser Al Attiyah, looked keen to start the battle. The Qatari who finished 10th of his first Dakar in 2004 and was third when he crashed out of last year's race believes that his X3 can manage great things.
“The car has nothing to do with last year's. It's much better, much faster. I really think I can manage a great result this time”. Al Attiyah will indeed be driving a new X3 model like his team mates Guerlain Chicherit and Alfie Cox while José Luis Monterde will start on an X5.
For South Africa's Cox, it'll be a first experience on four wheels in the Dakar, after riding a KTM and managing second spot overall in 2001. “It's not completely new because I race on a Nissan in South Africa. But I'm just here to learn. I feel relaxed.”
Jose Luis Monterde: “I'm made for marathon races”
The driver from Castellon arrived at scrutineering behind the steering wheel of his BMW X5: the only model of the German team this year while the other three vehicles are X3s. “The new X3 car is a lot more powerful. A lot of work has been done to lighten the vehicle. But because I haven't had the possibility to test the car, I preferred to start wit this model that I know well.” Monterde however feels ambitious and wants to make it within the top ten. “It's a race for me. I like marathons and I'm usually better in the second week.”
Yoshimasa Sugawara: “Driving with my head”
The man that many call the ‘Uncle' of the Dakar will be starting his 24th consecutive rally at the age of 64. Yoshimasa Sugawara is also the only competitor of the Dakar to have started the race in all three categories since 1983. “The goal is to win the 10L category. Our truck isn't powerful enough to compete with the Kamaz team so I'll be driving with my head. It would be great to one day win the truck race. Concerning the De Rooy trucks, if they aren't allowed to start, I feel sorry for them and for the truck event but there are rules and one has to respect them. That's what we do with Hino. My interest is to start the race with a standard truck that has nothing to do with some prototypes.”
André de Azevedo: ”Enter the top 5”
This year again, André de Azevedo will be starting the Dakar with the ambition to finish among the five leading trucks overall. He has indeed worked on several changes on his Tatra truck in order to avoid the “hiccups” that forced him to quit during last year's event. “I'm very happy to start the race in Portugal. The first two stages should be fast and allow us to make sure the changes we have done on the truck are good. We have shortened the chassis by 54cm and lightened the truck by 400kg for a better transmission. If all goes well in Europe, we'll really gain in confidence and that's important to manage our goal of finishing in the top 5. Other than that, the new navigation rules will ad an extra something to the race. I hope that my experience as a former biker will help".
Guerlain Chicherit: “Waiting for this moment for the last 6 months”
Winner of the Volant Dakar contest last year that allowed him to start the race in a Bowler, Guerlain Chicherit is back for this edition as an official driver for the BMW X-Raid team. His ambitions are obviously bigger but the Frenchman still has a lot to learn and wants to prepare the future. “A lot of things have changed compared to last year. I was lucky enough to enter a top team with big ambitions. We have a very powerful car and rather similar to the one that I drive in road rallies. I believe we have done all the necessary things to be ready for the start The car is great, physically we're OK and with Mathieu (Baumel) we have studied the new rules. We have no reason to be worried. Anyhow, I've been waiting for this moment for the last 6 months. I'm eager to take off.”
Press Release Amaury Sport Organisation