At the end of last week, the 2015 Dakar presentation conferences enabled competitors from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia to get an enhanced taste of the rally’s atmosphere. Three weeks before the start, the time for thrills is fast approaching.
It will be soon time to get down to business! Whilst most of the European competitors were able to release the pressure when loading their vehicles onto the cargo ship currently heading for the Argentinean coast, the tension has been building for the South Americans as they have attended the presentation conferences organised in the Dakar’s three host countries. In Buenos Aires, it was in the reception lounges of the Casa Rosada, in front of which the start podium will be assembled; that Etienne Lavigne alongside Tourism Minister Enrique Meyer welcomed the competitors. The conversations of the fifty-something riders and drivers who made the journey last Wednesday were focused on the difficulties along the route of the 2015 edition, which have planted seeds of doubt even among the most ambitious participants such as Orlando Terranova: “The uncertainty this year concerns the marathon stage, because it will be the first time that the cars will have to tackle one. We’ll have to be very careful in how we handle it”.
In Santiago in Chile, the competitors were singing from the same hymn sheet, such as quad category title holder, Ignacio Casale, who is expecting a particularly difficult challenge: “The truth is that the Dakar will be really tough, because there are some very long stages, even at the start of the rally”. Whilst they await a chance to see their hero in action, the Chilean spectators can already start soaking up the atmosphere of the event, or at least the inhabitants of Iquique, which hosted the inauguration of the Museo Dakar museum, a photo exhibition zone set up in the cultural centre. In less than one month, on 9th January to be precise, the city will become the nerve centre of the race: on the Plaza Arturo Prat, a half-way point podium will allow the spectators to acclaim the competitors before they enjoy their rest days, held at different moments depending on the categories. In total, the festival in Iquique will last for 4 days until 12th January.
For the Dakar’s second visit to Bolivia, the show will also be especially intense. This year, Uyuni and its surrounding region will be hosting the rally for three days, with the organisation of a marathon bivouac that will play host to the bikers and quad riders and then to the cars for the first time. The programme was presented last Friday in the city of Santa Cruz by David Castera, in the company of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The Head of State, still just as enthusiastic as last year when he attended the arrival of the riders and drivers and 400,000-strong crowds that were there to see them, is delighted at the opportunity to show the whole world images of his country and the possibility of seeing some of its ambassadors sparkle on the country’s tracks: “We will be represented by 10 riders and drivers in 3 categories. We are very proud to see them take on the difficulty of this event and their performance will help bring all Bolivians together to support them”.