Before the start of the Dakar
Ahead of the start of the 29th Dakar Rally in Lisbon, Sylvain Poncet, Gauloises Team Sperrer explains his excitement as he prepares to take on the challenge with Raphael Sperrer in their Buggy SMG number 369.
What are the most important
qualities necessary to succeed in Dakar, drawing on your experience in your previous two participations?
Above all it's key to have an excellent physical preparation to succeed in this rally. I've been working out really hard according to a specific programme to ensure I'm completely fit for this challenge. We're all athletes at the wheel and need to be to beat the challenging conditions.
And what about your car, the Buggy?
I had a ride in the Lyon mountains because I'm based in France. The final checks were done in Vallauris and I've spent some time getting to know the car. Everything is in perfect order for the start.
You haven't co-driven before with RaphaŽl Sperrer in the Buggy, how do you see that working out?
We've been preparing hard and studying the routes together. Our strategy is clear: We have to take time in the first couple of stages to get used to each other and it's so important that we're both talking the same language and understand one another. Above all it's important to get on well and stay focused so we don't make any mistakes.
How do you feel about this rally?
The first part is quite legendary but you've got to be extremely vigilant and not make any mistakes. The sand can always catch you out at a moment's notice. It's hard work Ė especially the four very sandy special stages.
What do you think about the Buggy?
It's truly a wonderful vehicle. It's a lot faster than the other cars I've driven in before. On paper the car's performance looks really interesting Ė we're looking to turn those statistics into results.
How does this year compare with your previous Dakar Rally entries?
For me, the first was all about discovery and the challenge was just to make it to the finish. The second was all about fighting to lead try to win our category and this third attempt the stakes are even higher as the car is the most powerful I've been in.