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Dakar 2009: The Repsol teams ready for the new Dakar.

Almost a year ago doubts and worries plagued the large Dakar family, innocent bystanders as terrorist threats in Mauritania stopped the 30th edition of one of the most legendary races of recent times. However, the desire to hold the race, which is really a big adventure, means that it is possible for the Dakar to carry on, although to do so it has been necessary to move to South America. This means a big new challenge for everybody involved, a different type of adventure but one which the KTM Repsol and Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart teams are fully prepared for.

The start is on 3rd January in the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. Ahead of them they have almost 10 000 kilometres, 5 500km are timed special sections that take the riders across the Pampas over the Andes to Chile and into the Atacama desert, before returning to Argentina on 18th January. After a totally atypical year, without the Dakar and with a calendar that mixed the Dakar Series with rounds in the World Championship, the Repsol teams will once again be competing with the hopes of gaining more titles for their collection, in both the car and motorbike categories.

The Repsol KTM Team, among the favourites in motorbikes

The team´s figurehead is Marc Coma, tackling his seventh Dakar and aware of the fact that if there is one thing he is not going to miss in South America it is the toughness associated with the race. The Repsol rider has seen the two sides of this demanding race, from the victory he got in 2006 to the bitter farewell he had to say to the 2007 edition, where a fall three days from the finish brought an end to his complete domination of the race from the very start. After winning the Rally Patagonia Atacama three times Coma knows that the Dakar is very different, but once again will start among the favourites.

Jordi Viladoms will be at his side once again, a rider who is currently in tip-top form for the most important date of the year, and looking forward to what will be his third Dakar. The Repsol rider will stick to the same plan as he had a year ago, his objective being to give support to Marc Coma right up to the final stage. This time Viladoms can count on the experience he gained in his two previous participations in the Rally Patagonia Atacama, a race where he got a third position and which lets him start with more confidence. The third member of the team is Gerard Farrés, a rider who after two years of riding to gain experience in the team is facing his second Dakar. Farrés made his debut in the Team Repsol KTM last season in the Rally Tunisia, finishing in a good fourth position. Since then he has been working on improving aspects such as the navigation and getting used to the KTM 690 Rally so that he can help the team in whatever way is possible. Two injuries this season have not dimmed his enthusiasm and Farrés will go to Buenos Aires recovered from them both and eager to learn, to continue improving and give a little help to his friends in one of the most important teams in the race: the Repsol KTM Team.

Jordi Arcarons will be travelling with them, the Team manager of Repsol KTM, a man who has participated in sixteen editions of the Dakar, once again he will accompany Coma, Viladoms and Farrés with the aim of helping them from day to day. His experience in the good times, such as the victories for “Nani” Roma in 2004 and Marc Coma`s in 2006, as well as the bad times is something that gurantees that the riders can tackle each stage in the best possible way.

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart, the reigning champion

In the car category the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team will have four Lancer Racing cars fighting to win the Dakar 2009, the first time in history that a diesel-powered car can opt to win the race. The Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart is ready to start a complete season with the new turbo-charged car, and its first date will be the Dakar 2009. The driver lineup will be the same as it has been since 2005: Stéphane Peterhansel (France), Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan), Luc Alphand (France), and Nani Roma (Spain). The Repsol quartet, directed as always by Dominique Serieys, will fight not only for the first ever victory for diesel-powered vehicle, but will also be battling to get overall victory number 13, which will mean the seventh consecutive victory for Mitsubishi in this legendary endurance race since 2001.

After winning the motorbike category in the Dakar six times, Stephane Peterhansel changed to four wheels back in 1999 he later teamed up with Mitsubishi in 2002. Driving a Montero Evolution he added wins in 2004, 2005 and 2007 to his long list of successes, and he has been given the affectionate nickname of “Monsieur Dakar” in consequence. Just like Peterhansel Nani Roma changed to the four wheel category after a successful time as a motorbike rider. He won the European Enduro Championship in 1994 and participated in the Dakar for the first time in 1996. After having won the Dakar in the motorbike category in 2004 he changed to four wheels that very year, and in his first participation in the Dakar in a car, driving a Mitsubishi, finished in sixth position. One year later Roma finished in third position in a Montero Evolution in the Dakar 2006.

The third member of the team also knows what it is like to win at the Pink Lake in Senegal. Luc Alphand started competitive driving after a brilliant career in alpine skiing, in fact he won the World Cup in 1997. He made his debut in the Dakar in 1998, and in 2004 he joined the Mitsubishi team. He won his first Dakar two years later in 2006 in a Montero Evolution decorated in the Repsol colours. Hiroshi Masuoka won the Dakar Production category in 1990 and 1994, before getting two notable consecutive victories at the wheel of a Montero Evolution in the Dakar 2002 and 2003.

Repsol sees the arrival of the diesel engine on the Lancer Racing as an opportunity for the company to showcase its latest research developments in the field of fuel efficiency and in the diesel sector. The efforts made by the Spanish oil and gas giant were recently rewarded with a nomination as a “Gold Class” company in the Annual Sustainability Survey 2008 drawn up by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), an independent company responsible for making the yearly evaluations for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

2008/11/26 | 08:57 CET | Editor: MR/HS/David Martínez Pato

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