Commences Final Preparations for the Dakar 2007
While the Dakar 2007, the world's longest, most grueling, most dangerous off-road race, may seem like risky business for the only two American CEOs, it is “all business” in their third attempt to finish the 29th edition of
the Euromilhões Lisboa-Dakar 2007 rally from January 6-21st 2007.
Ronn Bailey, owner/driver of Ronn Bailey Motorsports, and CEO and CTO of Vanguard Integrity Professionals, will maneuver his custom built Chevy LS7 buggy with his co-pilot and CEO of Electra, Kevin Heath, in the 2007 Dakar.
Just three weeks ago, the racecar with Ronn Bailey as pilot, plunged down the face of a 70' dune in the Mojave Desert – flipping, crashing, and burning. It was one of the final practices before the car was to be shipped to Paris in final preparation for the Dakar. Though no one was injured, more than 40 percent of the race car was destroyed. The subsequent rebuilding effort, dubbed as ‘The Phoenix Arises', was accomplished against all odds and an iron-clad schedule.
For the second year, Dakar competitors will start in Lisbon, Portugal on an arduous 8,696 km. (5,400 miles) course including 5010 km. of timed specials in the fifteen stages. Some 525 teams from 42 different countries will be driving some 250 motorcycles, 187 cars, and 88 trucks. The drivers and bikers will first battle it out during two Specials in Portugal and through Spain. Then they will cross the Mediterranean to Africa, where they will face treacherous dunes, long stretches of harsh, rocky terrain and navigational challenges throughout the stages in Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal (only 40 percent of entrants will make it to the finish).
This year, Bailey created Ronn Bailey Motorsports, opening a state-of-the art-racing facility in Boulder City to build a buggy that would be highly competitive and finish the Dakar 2007. Outfitted with a LS7 engine, the body is composed of lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar materials aerodynamically shaped with an enclosed cockpit and gull wing doors. A number of new innovations in design and testing have optimized the car to remain extremely competitive despite debilitating sand dune conditions that comprise much of the race.
While Bailey and his team entered a number of races this year in preparation for the Dakar, they also had an outstanding competitive season against many veteran and professional competitors. Bailey won the Sonora 250 in Mexico, scored third overall in the SouthCoast 250 and Midnight Special evening rally and was solidly in first place during the Caliente 250 before an accident knocked him out of the race.
Bailey kicked off the 2006 season with an impressive second place finish in the Buffalo Bills 400. According to Bailey, "If this past year is any indication of what our race team can achieve and how competitive we are, then we can certainly expect to finish and maybe even score first place in our Class I vehicle category. My co-pilot, Kevin Heath is a veteran Dakar motorcyclist with superb navigation skills, as well as a lifelong endurance sport athlete, so we have a lot of factors in our favor going into this incredible life experience.”
Bailey, 58, took a remarkable first step in off road racing by entering the 2005 Dakar having never competed in any off road race, and assembled a car and team in only four months. Although he finished the Dakar race, he was declared "retired" by officials after being lost in a blinding sandstorm without gas or food for three days in Mauritania. In only his third race and second Dakar, in 2006, he actually finished in the twelfth position during Stage 8, passing most of the competitors, only to be disqualified in Stage 9 for missing two checkpoints due to mechanical problems.
Co-pilot Kevin Heath, who lives in San Diego, was forced to withdraw in Stage 7 of the 2006 Dakar, after flipping off his cycle and suffering broken ribs and a compound fracture of his arm. In the 2005 Dakar, mechanical problems and a subsequent run-in with local bandits ended that race effort for Heath.
“Ronn has made great strides over the last three years,” Heath explains. “He has shown that he has the heart of a champion and has amply demonstrated that he can race competitively under the most extreme conditions. Dakar is all about navigating, and I'm looking forward to playing that role as Ronn's co-pilot.”
Vanguard Integrity Professionals is the sponsor of Ronn Bailey MOTORSPORTS for Dakar 2006.
Ronn Bailey Motorsport