Dakar Rally : Scrutineering
Each year Jean-Louis Schlesser, winner in 1999 and 2000, tries to disturb the peace of the "factory drivers" with his famous blue buggies. A noteworthy feat was the three stage victories achieved in Africa in the 2006 edition.
the designer-constructor has once again fine-tuned his vehicle, both technically and aesthetically: "We have been working on it for ten months, especially on the aerodynamics and actuation. I reckon it's looking good and all the tests carried out have confirmed that it has a high performance level, because its bite has to be as bad as its bark", says Schlesser, who believes he is in top condition physically. The most ardent attacking spirit in the rally is one of the many challengers who will be lining up at the start: "It's true that there are around fifteen competitors who could climb onto the podium. Everyone starts off with this hope, but plenty of things can happen during the race".
André de Azevedo, a sure bet
André de Azevedo, driver of the 4th-placed truck last year, can start this year's Lisbon-Dakar with legitimate ambitions. But the Brazilian driver is primarily realistic: "There are many serious competitors, especially with the return of the De Rooy family. They can all rely on structures of considerable size. As far as I'm concerned, I only have a support T5 which I'll be sharing with my brother Jean and Thomas Tomecek". The racing goal of this Tatra driver among three is to finish in the top 5: "I've got the experience required", insists the Brazilian.
Just like 2005 for Syndiely Wade?
In 2005, Syndiely Wade arrived in Dakar for the first time, in 52nd place of the general rankings. The Senegalese President's daughter still remembers the immense joy she felt and hopes to experience it once again: "It was a fabulous feeling. During the race, it's easy to lose track of the excitement generated by the Dakar: we are focused on the competition. But when I arrived in the capital, all the happiness and joy of the people along the roadside really hit home".
Back in Black
A year after causing a sensation by arriving in the scrutineering zone behind the wheel of his Hummer, Robbie Gordon is back in Lisbon with a new machine that is just as impressive… All in black, the latest version of the American vehicle needs to wipe away memories of the previous model whose African adventure was halted after seven stages. "Last year we thought, in vain, that we could play one of the leading roles. As soon as the Dakar finished, we started working toward the next one by clearly identifying our weaknesses", admits the American driver.
"We have done thirty days of wind tunnel work and almost 10,000 miles of tests. The engine is better. We have gained more speed, around 20 mph. Our Hummer is ready to eat camel dust". Certainly more cautious than last time, Gordon refrains from speaking of victory or the podium. "Our team only has one shot, unlike the big official teams who have four or five of them. We are aiming to keep pace with our rivals".