|SA-Dakar Rally: Lavieille and Polato finished 7th with "Mitsubishi-Nissan".|
On Sunday, the French "Team Dessoude" took the start of the 2012 Dakar. Their menu for the coming days includes 8500 km of infernal tracks, dunes and all sorts of difficulties.
Yesterday evening, in Santa Rosa de la Pampa, the Dessoude ship has been well and truly launched, with their aim being to reach the Pacific Ocean, from the Atlantic coast, crossing Argentina, Chile and Peru. On this first special stage, 57 km long, Christian Lavieille and Jean Michel Polato finished in 7th position.
After a glorious start, in front of hundreds of thousands of Argentine fans, all supporting the Dakar, Team Dessoude opted for two different strategies. While Christian, Isabelle and Thierry had decided to push in order to remain at the front, Frédéric Chavigny and Jihong Zhou preferred to take things calmly and to get the measure of their new cars.
At the first Dakar bivouac, Teamchef André Dessoude was satisfied with this first day, which can always be perilous: "We have to get the Dessoude machine underway, to look after the drivers who are much in demand from the media and the public, and also to put the assistance in place. We do not have the time to get going gradually, and we have to be on the pace from the start. There is obviously a lot of work this evening in order to take care of the final settings and to adapt the vehicles to the feedback from the drivers."
He added: "This time, we’re underway: The Dakar has started - and started very quickly! As a general rule, you cannot win the Dakar on the first special stage, 67 km is nothing compared to what awaits us. However, you can lose everything. You have to be careful. This evening, two of our main rivals have already fallen victim to this."
Christian Lavieille, whilst being classified among the best, remained vigilant throughout: "The special stage went well, even if it was short. You had to keep your concentration. I still needed to get my bearings, as the car is much faster than the previous Dessoude prototype, especially over rough ground. The first special stages are always rather tricky on the technical side, as you often discover problems which had not shown up in testing. But today, everything went well, and I have not yet found the car’s limits."
Isabelle Patissier was also on the pace right away: "600 kilometres of liaison, while the outside temperatures were 40/45 degrees - that is really difficult. Luckily, we don’t have any windows in the buggy! As for the special stage, it was fun, and rather rock and roll, as there were plenty of spectators and it was sometimes rather tricky to find the way through."
Frédéric Chavigny’s world has changed. Moving from T2 to T1 is a huge step. The difficulties arrive much quicker, and the speeds are much higher. Despite 350 km of testing, Frédéric Chavigny and Jean Brucy are really discovering the car in the race.
"We drove quite calmly in order to get used to the car, which is very fast. The special stage was very beautiful, alternating fast and sandy sections along the Atlantic, but it was already very hot, and the liaison was very long - over 600 km! This Dakar is off to a very fast start."
This was an excellent first stage from Thierry, confirming that the alchemy between him, Francois Borsotto and the Buggy should be a winning formula : "We were rather cautious as we were bothered by the dust. But this was a rehearsal, in order to see how the car behaved, and it was perfect. Monday we start in minute by minute intervals, so it should be easier, and the real Dakar will get underway."
Jihong had a day without any real difficulties. He had opted to take his time, to get the ‘feeling’ for his car and to get used to his co-driver. It is not easy to take over the Proto Dessoude 05, as it is a very high-performance car. In Christian’s hands, it finished in the Top 10 of the 2011 Dakar. So for their first Dakar, the Chinese pair preferred to learn without taking any risks, as there is a very long way to go
2012/01/02 | 13:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DESSOUDE