Interview with Eric Vigouroux
Few days after his return from Dakar, Eric Vigouroux tells us about his race and reveals his projects.
After a very good beginning in Portugal (at the 15th place of the first run) Eric an Alex approach Morocco in excellent conditions.
As they try to dodge the first traps of the track, they drove at a regular and fast rhythm and maintain themselves at the top of the ranking (13th after the fourth stage Er Rachidia-Ouarzazate). During almost all the first week, they are at the lead of the Open category and second of the ''two wheel drive'' category behind Jean-Louis Schlesser. So, just like at the Dakar 2006 (victory at the Open category), the Pro-System Racing team demonstrated its potential and started the second part of the race with a perfect state of mind and an invincible motivation. However, everything was about to collapse during the ninth stage between Atar and Tichit.
Tell us about the circumstances in which you have been put off course.
“Everything appeared very well at the start of the 9th stage, it was the day after the ‘'rest'' day. As we had already passed through the first line of very soft dunes, a lot of vehicles were still in difficulties. Then, at the 220 kilometer, after hearing a very alarming noise from the floor of the car, we are stopped abruptly. The diagnostic was worrying: the crossbar of the propeller shaft was broken. A premiere in my career ! In itself, this breakdown wasn't so bad but easy and fast to repair, even on the track. Unfortunately, the truck where the replacement part was stocked in, gave up two days before. It was the T4 of the American Ronn Bailey who rent us spaces because we didn't have the budget to hire our own ‘'race'' assistance truck.
Three hours later, another truck accepted to pull us, but didn't succeed in passing over the second line of dunes and let us there, at sunset, with a vehicle down, on the soft sand!
While Alex stayed there to watch over the vehicle, I was doing everything to get transported to the next little city, Tidjikta, where I had an appointment with my assistance car to get the replacement part. Around 1 A.M., I was on the road again, in the opposite direction, in a little truck rent from an inhabitant. And at 4 P.M., I finally returned to Alex. Forty-five minutes later, the Trophy-Truck was operational at 100%, ready to swallow down the 450 km that separated us from Tichit in order to take the start of the next stage.
From that moment, we engaged a real time race. We arrived at the CP2 at sunrise, and there the inspectors announced us that we would be off course considering the distance left. We refused that fatality and after 40 minutes of negotiation, we obtained the authorization for an ultimate attempt! A little bit later, we arrived at the CP3 10 minutes before it close, everything still seemed possible! We engaged a ‘'great attack'' and passed over every difficulties of a very technical track and then, 15 km before arriving to Tichit, we have been betrayed by an oil pump that made us lose precious minutes. Even if we rapidly resolved the problem, we arrived 30 minutes late at Tichit...
At that moment, we realized that our Dakar was definitely over, and with a deep sadness, we head back to Tijikja: a 850 km long track, in 24 hours! This succession of very unfavorable events finally succeeded in putting us off course. Indeed, our propeller shaft broke at the worst moment (marathon stage, with no assistance, the longer of the rally) and at the worst place of the path.
Anyway, it's the race and its peripetia that's makes the Dakar a unique competition in the world.”
How appear the next of the 2007 season?
” We are already preparing our participation to the Tunisian Rally. We expect to obtain the agreement of the sport's instances to engage in our Trophy Truck, that doesn't correspond in each point to the technical rules of the F.I.A, but to the rules of the SCORE USA. We also think about engaging in another race at the last trimester ( Pharaons rally or Shamrock) in order to validate the lasts technical evolutions to reach our objective with that vehicle: to finish in the top ten of the Dakar!
In addition, I would like to run in United States during the next Baja 1000 which is going to be the 40th anniversary in November 2007. We envisage to prepare one of our Protruck especially for this competition.''
What are your long/mid term projects?
”2007 will be a year of important transition from a personal and professional view. Indeed, after the sold of my company Pro-System Group in last may, we decided, with my family, to install in San Diego (California) to start a new life. Although life there is very pleasant, the choice of that city is above all, motivated by the fact that all the off-road community is installed in that region. I have the intention to run as often as possible (there is a race almost every week-end) and get near from the best specialists in order to increase my experience in every domain.
I would also like to develop some commercial activities with Pro-System Racing, making easier exchanges between the two continents for all those who want to discover another style of race, driving, and vehicles.''