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Dakar 2009: Interview with Paco Crous, Logistics Manager Volkswagen

15 rally stages, one rest day and a strong team that supports the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles: in addition to technical expertise and first-class driving skills, the task of successfully contesting a Dakar Rally requires carefully thought-out logistics. At Volkswagen, Paco Crous is responsible for organisation before and during the 2009 "Dakar". Here’s a brief interview with the logistics manager.

What is the biggest challenge involved in organising a sporting event like the Dakar Rally for Volkswagen?

"To tackle the Dakar project with nearly 80 people means having to deal with 80 different needs. Every individual in the team is responsible for different things. This ranges from drivers and co-drivers, managers, mechanics and engineers all the way to the team physician and the chef. They all have certain wishes, individual schedules and tasks we need to consider. Of course everyone in the team knows that they’re part of what are arguably the three most strenuous and difficult weeks of the year and acts accordingly, in keeping with the team spirit."

As a logistician at the "Dakar" you’re a warehouse manager, hotel manager and travel consultant all in one. What makes this job so special?

"The Dakar has its own laws. The driving is done during the day and work is performed at night. Consequently, there’s very little sleep, which means there’s a risk of making mistakes. It’s a major challenge not to lose track in these conditions. Modern technology and software takes care of many things for us. But whenever they’ve reached their limits, it helps to have years of experience."

What does the day-to-day job of a logistician on location look like?

"Being the first to rise and the last to retire is part of it. In between, a lot of challenges have to be mastered every day - both bigger and smaller ones. But there’s no such thing as a typical problem. Problems can range from a car that has to be rescued from the rally route after an accident all the way to supplying enough beverages for the mechanics."

There are about eight service vehicles per Race Touareg - why is there such large-scale support?

"The organisers always aim to make the next Dakar an even greater challenge than the previous one. The technical demands made on the entire fleet increase accordingly. And because we’re not allowed to use any spare parts we’re not carrying ourselves the risk of losing a truck has to be minimised and distributed to more vehicles."

2008/11/14 | 15:05 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Volkswagen

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