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Dakar Rally 2013: French Team Dessoude aims for new challenge with 5 cars.

The 2013 Dakar will mark a new challenge for the French [ TEAM DESSOUDE ]. With five cars entered, three of which are "made in Saint-Lô", André Dessoude adopts a new strategy perfectly suited to the current environment. New vehicles with lower operating costs but still very fast on track. The scheme drawn by Team Dessoude fits perfectly the emerging trend of today's rally-raids.

André Dessoude explains this strategy. "Times have changed! The current economic situation pushes the team to adapt to the new trend. The sponsorship budgets are increasingly scarce and we had to make new choices to stick to the new deal. Selling the Proto XI was painful but it was a wise decision. When you want to enter a car in optimal conditions, it requires very large budgets and we are no longer able to provide today such operating costs on a Dakar."

"To be successful on the Dakar, three elements are essential, have a good car, make a good race but above all, have a solid budget! That is why we have chosen to turn to vehicles more accessible in terms of cost, in harmony with our existing budgets, but without forgetting performance. The Buggy Juke is the perfect example of this new development axis in 2WD category. We applied the same precept in 4x4 category with the Proto Atacama."

"The Juke buggy is the result of hard work. After the "Silk Way" in Russia and "Pharaons" Rally in Egypt, many improvements were made especially on reliability. For the Dakar, this car is a good compromise. The diesel engine will be much less penalizing in altitude and this year it seems that a large part of the race will take place on high altitude. We will load less fuel, which will reduce consistently the car’s weight. Christian (Lavieille) has a 100% brand new vehicle benefiting from the latest changes."

"Christian is a driver able to adapt quickly and he saw the potential of the Juke. The duo, crew / vehicle should work well. I am rather optimistic. The second Juke will be driven by a Gentleman Driver, Stéphane Wintenberger who has experience in circuit and has already driven in the team few years ago on a rally of Morocco. Moreover, he will have a "top co-driver" with Thierry Delli Zotti. A professional driver and a Gentleman driver on a similar car, the progression of both vehicles will be very interesting. The Juke is versatile and able to be driven by two drivers with a radically different style."

The third car "Made in Saint-Lô," the Proto Atacama, will be driven by the now familiar to the team, Frédéric Chavigny. "Fred tested few weeks ago in Morocco, with Christian, and is very satisfied with the latest developments. The Atacama has lost 150 kg and is much more comfortable in the sand. Numerous parts have been redesigned. Frédéric finished almost all his races since his debut in rally raid, there is no reason to change that."

This year, Team Dessoude will assist two other cars. "Yves Tartarin will be assisted by our team. It is committed to a buggy quite similar to ours, made in the same spirit. His car is new and he seems satisfied. In addition, he will be able to help Christian on track."

"The fifth car is a Mitsubishi 4x4 driven by Bernard Chaubet who originally was associated to Jean-Luc Roy. Unfortunately, Jean-Luc will not be able to participate this year for professional reasons. Nevertheless, I wanted to honor my commitments and Bernard will benefit from the transport of his spare parts."

New Dakar and new challenge for Christian Lavieille and Jean-Michel Polato. This year, the crew will invest the cockpit of the Juke. A new challenge with a significantly different vehicle but which does not seem to displease the duo, as Christian Lavieille, the "home driver", explains.

"I drove two years ago, at the Silk Way Rally, on the buggy Oryx, which was a bit "the ancestor" of the present Juke. Everything has been completely revised and since, a lot of work has been done to achieve this version. The car is beautiful, it's a beautiful work and moreover, it is brand new. The suspension has been improved and we will use a new wheel diameter on the Dakar. The Juke is a car, it's not a prototype like the Proto XI and it must be properly managed."

"In terms of positioning, I prefer to remain cautious. Many new cars will race this year. To have a precise idea, we will have to wait for the first stages, I'd rather not say anything. If with the Proto XI the objective was to reach the top 10, with the Juke, patience before making any predictions."

About the route, Christian is now able to have an idea of the program. Between Peru, Argentina and Chile, Dakar remains a long-term race. "According to what is announced, only the beginning of the race is unknown for us. We start with the dunes and the sand of Peru, which were at the end of the race last year. Unfortunately, we did not arrive so far last year ... The rest of the stages seems to be a compilation of other years and we have a good idea of the terrain. But the Dakar is the Dakar with a lot of surprises."

Christian will once again teamed up with Jean-Michel Polato. A solid crew with a solid experience. "I am very happy to share with Jean-Michel this new adventure. He enjoys the project and as usual, the motivation is at the top. The atmosphere in the team should be very nice because the crews know each other and the coming of Stéphane (Wintenberger) on the same car will be interesting. Fred has a card to play on the Atacama. The car has evolved. The final tests in Morocco were very satisfying and Fred, as a driver, improved a lot. The whole team is highly motivated to make a great race, so now I'm dying to join Lima. Let’s begin the party!"

Now a regular team-mate of Team Dessoude, Frédéric Chavigny will enter his fifth Dakar this year. In four appearances, "Fred" retired once and has even scored three victories in the T2 Petrol category. During the 2012 edition he jumped to the T1 category with the Atacama.

Since then, the Proto has undergone many developments and the latest tests in Morocco are very encouraging. After participating in the Silk Way Rally and some events in Portugal, the driver and the car have evolved. The introduction of a new engine, the V6 3.5l Nissan from the 350 Z model and a new braking system, have contributed to this progress towards performance and reliability. A few weeks before the start, Frédéric shows serenity.

"This year, we will start in a much more confident mind. I would like to congratulate the whole Team Dessoude for the very serious work done on the car. I hope the 2013 Dakar will see the real beginnings of the Atacama. The final tests in Morocco were very encouraging. All what should be done has been done. We own now power, a good traction and an excellent ground clearance. The global impression is very good. The driver has better watch out! After the test, the feeling is trust. The Dakar is a race apart but I have hopes to finish in the top 20 ... it would be nice!"

For the 2013 Dakar, Fred will be navigated by the experienced Guy Leneveu, also a veteran of the Dessoude structure. "I am very happy to share this adventure with Guy. He is a top notched navigator who knows rally raid by heart and my wish is to drive him to Santiago."

For Frederic, the first week of the race should be ruthless. "The race starts in the sand and in large dunes. This first week will probably be extremely challenging for the crews and cars. As far as we will not cross for the first time the Cordillera, towards Argentina, I think we will not have break. The second week will also be very complicated because of the demanding first one. Managing the race as well as possible will be a key point. But I am convinced it will surely be a beautiful Dakar."

Stéphane Wintenberger is not entirely unknown in the Team Dessoude. In 2006, he participated in the Morocco Rally, his first experience in rally raid, and finished on the podium of the T2 category. But Stéphane is not a beginner in motorsport. Experienced Gentleman Driver, he has some experience in circuit and rally races.

At international level, he made his debuts in GT category and finished third in 2009 of the GT4 European Cup, driving a Donkervoort D8 GT. On the same car, he took part in the 24 Hours of Dubai. In France, he drove a Porsche on the V and V series and the French GT Championship. Stéphane drove also in rally, gravel and asphalt races on a 206 WRC car.

In 2013, he will live his first Dakar. A huge challenge but to face it he can rely on a "top co-driver", Thierry Delli Zotti. Thierry is one of the most awarded co-driver in rally raid at the highest level. He will be the ideal guide for Stéphane on the most demanding race. Entered on the second Buggy Juke of the Team, the first goal of the crew is to reach Santiago de Chile on 20th of January.

2012/12/04 | 15:33 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/ARPIZOU

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