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Por las Pampas: Newcomers also want glory

Spanish Jordi Viladoms and Chilean Francisco López hope they can fight for the first places on the first round of World Cup of Cross-Country Rallies for Bikes. Although this is their first experience in the speciality, both will attempt to "catch" Marc Coma. The ninth edition of Rally Patagonia-Atacama, that formally started on Tuesday evening in the Argentinean city of San Martín de los Andes for nine days on a row of racing up to the North of Chile, has Marc Coma as the candidate to get the victory for bikes. The Spaniard is the reigning champion, and last January he became the new Dakar king. However, on Wednesday’s first SS arriving at Neuquén, there are two well-known bikers who start in this off road specialty: Spanish Jordi Viladoms and Chilean Francisco López.

The Catalan has just made his debut in the Dakar and comes to Patagonia-Atacama in the hope to adding kilometres of experience. He knows that to beat Coma would not be easy. But he is calmed. The KTM rider said he is learning from Marc (Coma). This will be just my second raid race and I have to take it calmly to add as many kilometres as possible", he added.

In this transition form cross to off road, the Spaniard feels that he still must "adapt his driving style to this speciality. It was not difficult to get used to bikes; it is a very different way to approach the race, because here you have to navigate and to interpret the Road Book, and there are also endurance trials", he says. However, Viladoms hopes to make a good race joining Argentina and Chie.

To "Chaleco" López, this will be his third cross country event, after a glorious past in cross and endurance, including a gold medal in The Six Days. Considered the successor to Carlo de Gavardo in his country, the rider from Teno has a bike specially equipped by Honda Chile and hopes that the 450 cc. of his bike is enough to keep pace with the favourites.

"I have felt very confident while training and I am eager to begin", said the Chilean rider. "My main objective is to make it to Iquique with the complete bike. Among the riders who compete in this race, I only know (Marc) Coma and Viladoms and I do not know much about what the other riders can do. I am going to concentrate, to be calm, waiting", he said.

About his strategy for the race, he explained that "I cannot run as fast as the leaders because I am new in the speciality, but I hope to get as close to them as possible". His tactic seems to be cautious, but ambitious "I hope to achieve a good position so that I can get the final "push" to get a foothold in the Cross Country category". That push would take him to the mythic Dakar. "I will have on my shoulders a full year of experience in the World Cup, another Patagonia-Atacama and several other rallies, so I hope I can compete there in a year’s time."

2006/03/21 I 17:20 CET I Editor:

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