On the eve of the start of the 2014 Dakar the bikes have passed through technical scrutineering and are safely in the parc ferme. All that remains is the organiser’s general briefing and the traditional ‘family’ photo of the motorcycle competitors before they set off for the first 809 kilometre stage from Rosario to San Luis and its ‘short’ 180 kilometre special.
We’ve been here for six days now, first in Buenos Aires, where we were received like royalty by Yamaha Argentina and now in Rosario where the rally start is situated. In that time we’ve tested the bikes twice, packed the trucks, organised the camping car and done a couple of hundred interviews. I might be exaggerating slightly concerning the interviews, but not by much! And now we’re ready to go. Of course, with so many official teams and riders present this year the media have whipped themselves up into a frenzy trying to predict the result. Personally, with 9209 kilometres between here and the finish I’m slightly more reluctant to announce the final result 15 days ahead of time! What I do know is that, as always, I will be giving it absolutely everything I’ve got – and a little bit more.
Michael Metge On the eve of my second Dakar I’m happy to say I feel considerably more prepared than in 2013! The bike has made a lot of progress in that time and I have learnt a great deal in Cyril’s company. The fact that I am his support rider this year also takes the pressure off a little. There’ll be quite a few competitors out there who’ll be riding at 100% of their capabilities, but not me. My job in 2014 is to be there for Cyril if he needs me so I don’t have to worry too much about my overall position.
After the months of preparation, it’s a good feeling to have got the bikes through scrutineering and into the parc ferme – especially as I have managed to get through my training programme without incurring any injuries and am feeling in top form! And that’s going to be important as this Dakar looks like it’s going to be a tough one. That suits me just fine and should help me in my objective of finishing on the final podium.
Frans Verhoeven The bike is perfect and the race is going to be a hard one. I’m really looking forward to it. I have the distinction of being the oldest competitor on the Dakar organiser’s list of Elite riders so for me an endurance race is better than a sprint! Plus with age there’s experience and that should come in useful on the marathon stages. I’ve been hired to finish in the Top 10 but my personal ambitions go a little bit higher!”
Alexandre Kowalski – Team Manager
The days before the race gets underway are always a little long but for us, in our new configuration, they have been useful. Over the last few days the complicity among the different members of the team has grown and the atmosphere is excellent, ‘the mayonnaise has taken’, as we say in French! With Cyril on board this year our ambitions are clearly greater and we are all really looking forward to the challenge of fighting for the victory.