Heading to Jeddah!
➢ With the start of the rally now less than a month away, the vehicles essentially from Europe that are expected in Jeddah passed the technical checks at Castellet in the prestigious setting of Circuit Paul Ricard before being loaded on to a boat in Marseille for a 10–day cruise across the Mediterranean.
➢ The cargo ship that cast–off yesterday is transporting 129 bikes, 13 quads, 59 cars, 36 SSV and 45 race trucks, as well as 292 assistance vehicles, and in total more than 700 vehicles when including the media and organisation cars.
The beginning of chapter III of the Dakar history began during the loading of the vehicles that will line up for the start this coming 5 January in Jeddah. The teams had become accustomed to Le Havre for the departure of the transatlantic crossing to South America operated by a very special cargo ship. This year however they came together in the south of France for their technical checks. And for the occasion, the competitors felt particularly in the spirit of the event as they were invited to a hot spot of motor sport. Circuit Paul Ricard in Castellet was the venue where the likes of Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost starred in the Formula 1 French Grand Prix, before the victory of Lewis Hamilton upon the track’s return to the championship in 2018. But the happiest Dakar competitor to return to Castellet was local driver Christian Lavielle who won the 1996 and 1999 Bol d’Or on this same circuit. Beyond the emotional moment, the competitors were mainly focused on their current obligations, namely the passing through the garages where the fifteen or so stewards made a special trip to check the vehicles before allowing them to line up at the starting line. Once the formalities were completed, some of the participants in preparation were able to chat with an unexpected guest, André Villas–Boas, who recalled some memories of his participation in the 2018 Dakar. The day after his football team won in Angers, the manager of Olympique de Marseille was able to get away to pay a visit to David Castera and he reaffirmed his desire to return one day to finish the work he began two years ago!
Already in action, the competitors then were able to get a look in the South of France of the first road– book of the 2020 Dakar, with 80.5 kilometres to cover between Castellet and the port of Marseille. This will be a kind of homecoming for a handful of Dakar veterans who took part in the crossings to Algiers in the 1980s. This time, the vehicles waited a few days before being loaded into the bowels of the Jolly Palladio. In addition to the race and assistance vehicles, roughly 10 containers full of equipment, trucks and the 4x4s of the organisation as well as 10 helicopters were loaded in 23 hours, the thousands of manoeuvres were assured by the dock workers and members of the Dakar team. The programme now consists of enjoying a cruise across the Mediterranean before heading through the Suez Canal and landing on the shores of the Red Sea after about ten days at sea. This is just the beginning of the adventure.…
More information: www.dakar.com