auto 2712

DAKAR 2014: Through the first checkpoint

he vehicles of the European competitors reached Argentina after 19 days at sea and are now waiting for their owners to come and pick them up from Campana Port, starting on the morning of December 31. Late November was a key point in the run-up to the Dakar, as drivers and riders scrambled to Le Havre to load their vehicles onto the cargo ship. The transatlantic crossing of the motorcycles, quads, cars and trucks was in sharp contrast to all this hustle and bustle, under the watchful eyes of the crew of the Grande Roma and Dakar competitors turned sailors Luc and Simon. The sea was as smooth as glass throughout the entire trip, and the ship docked at Campana Port (80 km from Buenos Aires) right on schedule in the night of Sunday to Monday. About 30 dockers and 23 members of the Dakar teams then busied themselves with unloading the vehicles. It was a long, long day of little DIY tweaks and parking contests. Jean-Marc, who oversaw the procedures, told us about the problems which came up: “After three weeks at sea, some tyres are deflated and some batteries have run dry. This was a recurrent problem this year. Although we made a big effort to get them running again, it took us a bit longer than usual. In addition to the race vehicles, there were the trucks and cars of the assistance crews, the organisers and the media: all in all, 700 vehicles waiting to be unloaded. We ended up closing the car park at 3 am!” The port’s security service and three Dakar team members will watch over the vehicles at all times for a week, until the competitors come to pick them up from December 31 onwards.