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Andre Dessoude's report of Dakar 2007
Dakar Rally : Team Dessoude - Finish
André Dessoude has just finished his 25th Dakar. Some bitterness and disappointment, even if four of his seven cars reached the finish. The ‘Wizard of St-Lô' always remains lucid, and gave this analysis of his Dakar.

“Over my 25
Dakars, this will not be my favourite… even if we prepared well, with test sessions and spent time in the workshops . We were confident before we started, but we did not get the results we hoped for. There are, however, some very positive elements. Jean- Pierre Strugo finished 1s t in the T2 petrol class , and second in the whole T2 category . The crew put in a faultless performance, and did some magnificent work. Jun Mitsuhashi won the T2 category, and it is satisfying to remember that Jun was trained by us for three years. At the finish today , he came to thank me for all the experience he gained with Team Dessoude, which allowed him to win today. I found his attitude very endearing. Also in the T2 category, Paul finally broke his run of bad luck by finishing this edition of the Dakar. He did a good job, winning three stages in his class, and w as very relaxed throughout this Dakar.” said André Dessoude.

“Christian Lavieille's retirement remains my biggest disappointment. He really deserved a good result. A broken transmission, followed by a broken engine, destroyed our hopes. Christian is very unhappy at the moment, as are we all. He is an excellent driver, and I am sure his future results will eras e all memories of this event.”

"As for the two Protos, I am sorry that we did not have a s ingle ‘clear' stage, without any problems. There was never a true opportunity to gauge our performance up agains t our rivals . Punctures, getting s tuck in the sand and various technical incidents disturbed at least 20% of the route. However, Miguel Barbosa did set some interesting times. It's a shame he lost over three hours changing the transmission. Without that, he could have finished in the top 15. Yvan learned a lot over the two weeks.
Most importantly, he learnt how the event is made up, the different terrains crossed and the various changes of rhythm. He is now aware just how complex the Dakar really is.” said André Dessoude.

“As for the girls, Carole and Mélanie, it was also a great disappointment to see them leave the race. They had not made a single mistake. The balance and harmony of this crew was impr essive. It is quite ex c eptional. Relaxed and in a good mood, whilst remaining extremely serious : that was the attitude they showed for two whole weeks. More globally, the partnership with Oreca went well both before and during the event. Arnaud Elizagaray c ame with us on the rally and showed both his pr ofessional abilities and his qualities as a human being. He fitted perfec tly into the team and work ed harmoniously with our engineer Dominique Peres. We are waiting to see the analysis of the performance of the car compared to our rivals, which will allow us to make progress in the future. Back in St- Lô, we will proceed to a full debrief and start work for the World Cup seas on.”

To each his own Dakar…

Yvan Muller – Proto Dessoude :
“My contract is fulfilled, the car has reached Dakar, despite all the problems and worries, and I am very pleased considering how many talented drivers were forced to stop the adventure mid-way. Most of what I experienced on this event was what I had expected, but not everything. There are many parameters you cannot take into account before actually taking part. I really want to come back again. I did not agree to take part for fun, I came to learn. Next time, I'll know what is in store, and my way of looking at things will be different; maybe some things will be easier when I've got more markers. Physically, you have to be careful with what you eat, to get enough sleep and to drink enough, because over two weeks, the slightest issue can have serious consequences. For example, two nights ago, I slept really badly due to the mosquitoes. It tired me out, I got dehydrated, and it took me two days to get over it. You have to watch every smallest details – a little mistake can multiply and throw everything off. Motorsport is my profession. I came to learn, and next time I will definitely have more ambitions. No matter what, I finished my first Dakar, and to have done it in difficult circumstances is perhaps not a bad thing. But I would like to add that as well as the sporting side, I have learnt a lot about myself, I had to take responsibility during a number of situations. Now I understand why the Dakar exerts such fascination, and why it has gone on for 29 years…”

Miguel Barbosa – Proto Dessoude :
“Although the final result might not be positive, there are plenty of positive aspects. This is only our second Dakar, and once again we have reached the end. We have made progress, learned a lot, and set a good pace whenever we were spared mechanical problems, and that is very good. After the T1 Pathfinder in 2006, this year's Proto allowed us to move up a notch in the overall performance. We drove at a higher speed, but we still need to evolve a bit more, to be more confident in some legs. A Dakar is made up of a number of factors that you have to balance in order to get a good result. Now, after two editions of the Dakar, our main concern will be the result. To take part just to reach the end is no longer of great interest. The 2007 edition was not particularly difficult, with no great dunes to cross. Just a few sand storms and rough ground in Morocco spiced up the route. On a few stages, I really enjoyed myself. I would like to thank the whole team and most particularly the mechanics who did an excellent job, allowing us to set off every day with as fresh a vehicle as possible. See you all in 2008 !”

René Metge - Yvan Muller's co-driver - Proto Dessoude :
“Mission accomplished, the Proto has reached Dakar, which was the deal. I am satisfied, even if it was not easy, and I did it for André. I managed to adapt quite well to the right-hand seat, even if I had quite a few problems getting used to it at the start. To be a co-driver is quite a different job, and it's not mine, but I managed. I gave Yvan a few tips, and I hope he'll use them.» Jean-Pierre Strugo – Nissan Pathfinder T2 « That was a good Dakar, relatively easy, due to the cancellation of two major difficulties, the Timbuktu loop and the special stage leading to Atar. We had no mechanical problems. It's just a shame that among our five or six major rivals, one of them managed to put in a near-perfect race and won the category by just half an hour. We lost most of that half-hour when we had a wheel problem. I have no regrets as there is no such thing as a perfect race. I have finished my 22 nd Dakar, and this is my 15 th finish out of the last 18. This must be my fifth or sixth Dakar with André, and every time I have got to the end. The Nissan Pathfinder is really nice to drive and I adapted to it very quickly. As a small consolation for Yves (who did an excellent job), we have won the T2 petrol category, and finished second among all the T2 cars. I think that in 2008, I'll take the start of my 23 rd Dakar!”

Paul Belmondo - Nissan Pathfinder T2 :
“Delighted to have finished a Dakar, my first since 2003… We have finally appeared to have got rid of the black cat… With three category stage wins, and claiming a top-15 overall finish with a T2 car, it's not too bad. Our multiple problems between Atar and Tichit removed all hopes of a result, but we could so easily have had to retire at that point. On a Dakar, you have to accept constraints and problems, but the most difficult thing to manage is the way things accumulate. Being late out on the track means you have to drive after dark, and driving after dark just increases the risks. Then, if you arrive late at the bivouac, you might have to set off again the next morning with a vehicle that has not been totally serviced. And losing places, you start the next stage well back, in amongst the trucks and all their dust. There were no major difficulties on the 2007 edition. However, if the original route had been maintained, I am sure there would have been more damage. Of course I would like to come back, but with a T1 – I'd like to have fun with a more powerful car. The overall level of the vehicles has evolved, and running in T2 today often means you are behind the trucks, which is a nightmare, and is becoming more and more dangerous.”
Press Release Team Dessoude

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