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Optic 2000 Tunisia 2007 Special-Newssection (FIM Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Optic 2000 Tunisia Rally 2007, 1st round of the FIM Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Optic Tunisia: The four Nissan-Dessoude Teams before the Rally.

After the disappointment of the 2007 Dakar, Christian Lavieille is impatient to get going on the Rally of Tunisia, especially as he will have a top-class vehicle. This will be the first time that the reigning T2 World Cup winner will be driving the Nissan Pickup 05 (ex-factory). François Borsotto accepted the invitation and the popular duo from the Dakar are keen to get going.

Christian Lavieille cannot hide his enthusiasm: "If I was to describe the way I am feeling, I would say that I am happy, confident and impatient. We will have a very good vehicle, and the thing that makes me particularly happy is the confidence that André Dessoude has shown in me. After the Dakar, he fought hard so that we could bring this project, dear to both of us, to fruition.

Today, everything is in place, and it is up to us to make our ambitions come true. François was available for this event, and we wanted to finish what we had started together in January, in all harmony. In the Dakar, the mechanical problems followed by our retirement were very frustrating. The wounds took a long time to heal, but that’s all in the past now. For this edition of the Tunisia Rally, I am confident, as the Nissan 05 has great potential. For me, the first task will be to get used to the car as quickly as possible, to tame it and get the most out of it.

As far as the route is concerned, this 26th edition of the Optic 2000 is relatively classical. As usual, El Borma and the stage after it will be the determining factors. The El Borma loop will be the other way round from usual, which means we will meet the dunes straight on. But it should not be forgotten that the weather will be crucial, and the temperature will affect the way we go through the dunes. On paper, our main rival will be the very experienced Jean Louis Schlesser, but in case of problems, we could have a lot more rivals without forgetting Jose Luis Monterde, who knows the event well and who will have a good car. But we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves - the race starts on Sunday!"

There is no need to present Jean-Pierre Strugo, the "T2 King", as his career record speaks for itself. Many world titles and plenty of wins in Tunisia have made him its undisputed master. He will undoubtedly be the man to beat in this rally. His experience is incalculable, and the speed with which he adapted to the Pathfinder during the Dakar have proved that he is an extremely sharp rival, and totally motivated. There is no routine with Jean-Pierre Strugo, every day out on the trails is a new challenge and his (well founded) reputation as a thoughtful, well-balanced man has surprised a number of people.

His ability to manage his races so perfectly has frequently allowed him to turn things to his advantage. He will be the main favourite in the Production category. His faithful co-driver Yves Ferri will once more be at his side, and will do all he can to navigate his driver towards victory. Just like Jean-Pierre, Yves appreciates every moment of the race. An experienced and motivated duo.

Relentlessly faithful to Team Dessoude, Paul Belmondo will once again join the party with a Nissan Pathfinder Production. During his 10th Dakar, Paul finally got rid of the black luck which had dogged him, and finished the most legendary of events, despite mechanical problems, being classified 5th in the T2 class. Tunisia is an event he enjoys, and he is determined to fight for the class win. His main rivals will be his team-mates, Jean Pierre Strugo and Laurent Rosso, driving the same type of car.

As for the Nissan Pathfinder, Paul knows it like the palm of his hand, as does Team Dessoude, which will be a decided advantage. As in the Dakar, Paul Belmondo will have Guy Leneveu as a navigator. The two men will compete together for the second time. At no point will they lose sight of their objective: To reach Tozeur, the end point of the event, and to claim a good result in T2, preferably the win.

The third T2 driver in Team Dessoude is none other than Laurent Rosso - hardly a newcomer, this Frenchman who lives in Dubai. He finished in second place in the 2006 T2 World Cup, just behind a certain Christian Lavieille. Winning the UAE Desert Challenge at home, Laurent is a real sand specialist. Quite logical, as the sand is sort of his back garden. Crazy about the desert and Motorsport, he took part in the Dakar for the first time this year, along with his father. But in the Dakar, he was a co-driver.

Unfortunately, the Rosso family did not reach the end, being forced to retire. In Tunisia, Laurent will be back behind the wheel, and willb e navigated by Team Dessoude regular Fabian Lurquin. Fabian knows the car well, having taken part in the Pathfinder in the 2005 World Cup, as well as the 2006 Dakar alongside Benoît Rousselot. More recently, he did a short test with Dessoude during Yvan Muller’s first outing in the Rally of the Pharaohs in Egypt (an event where Laurent Rosso finished 7th overall!). This team can definitely join the fight for the victory in the Production category - it looks as if the battle will be hot!

2007/03/30 | 15:39 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude

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