To celebrate, slightly in advance, the first visit of the Dakar to Bolivia, Etienne Lavigne was welcomed to La Paz for a presentation where President Evo Morales came to encourage the riders and drivers from his country.
The big day is approaching. In hardly more than a month’s time, the Dakar bivouac will set up camp next to the Uyuni salt pans, where the bikers and quad riders on the rally will be in residence for a historical stay. As regards the ambiance, the Bolivians have already started to show their pride and joy, notably during a presentation conference which was not far off resembling a grand ceremony of support to all the country’s riders and drivers taking part in the rally. Having come together in La Paz in the lounges of the Radisson Hotel, decked out for the occasion in the Dakar’s colours and brimming with 400 journalists, the 3 bikers and 5 car crews who will be representing the country in January were already able to gauge the support that they will enjoy. Collectively moved by these signs of recognition, the Bolivian competitors’ state of mind can be summed up by the words of their expected leading light, Juan-Carlos Salvatierra. “I’m already sure that I will have an exceptional experience. It’s a wonderful chance that such a big event comes to our country and that we can take part in it,” explains the biker who finished in 29th position on the last Dakar, stealing the limelight from even the national football team thanks to his performance behind the handlebars. The celebratory ambiance of the meeting took a more solemn turn for the speech given by the President of the Bolivian Republic. Evo Morales, who made sure he encouraged the riders and drivers in person, believes that the Dakar represents, “a major challenge for Bolivia. It is a superb opportunity to be in the spotlight and share our culture and landscapes with the whole wide world. We promise that everyone will receive a welcome worthy of this event”. To transmit the necessary patriotic fervour to help the competitors with their assignment, the many guests raised the rafters with a rousing performance of the national anthem, sung by every single person in attendance, showing that there is plenty of spirit for success!