|SA-Dakar Rally: Sousa/Garcin in Top 10 - Great Wall "Let´s talk about future".|
Carlos Sousa and Jean-Pierre Garcin left 2012 Dakar with a fifth place in the short 29 km-stage which took the "survivals" of this edition to the Peruvian capital. Repeating the achievement of 2005, 2006 and 2007, the Portuguese driver finished his 13th participation in an excellent seventh position overall, as the best Portuguese car competitor.
Overcoming the best expectations in the debut with his new team and driving a SUV Haval, he offered Great Wall the best result ever of a Chinese team in this event. This is, perhaps, only the start of this relationship - because the Chinese delegates of Great Wall Motors will meet Sousa personally within the next days to talk about the future.
With a feeling of accomplishment and full conviction that it would be impossible to do better, Carlos Sousa kept his promise of returning in an excellent shape to the Dakar, after last year’s forced absence, and leading one of the youngest and inexperienced teams in the car squad to the international foreground.
"Considering the youth of this project and the several constraints related to this participation - such as being inactive since April and having tested during only three days in Morocco - it is clear that I am very happy with this result" the Portuguese told. "I kept my promise of finishing the race within the Top 10 and I know that I gave my best every day of these two weeks."
He continued: "It was not always easy, because we also had some mishaps, especially in the first two stages in Peru, where we suffered several problems and a delay of more than two hours. I use to say that in the Dakar it is normal to have a bad day - only this time we had two in a row! With a little more luck, I think we could be one position higher overall today. But the Dakar is like that and the important thing is that the team is extremely pleased with the result, which has really exceeded its officers’ best expectations."
Regular and consistent, despite the annoying flu which hindered him during the first week and the continuous problems with the engine cooling system and his SUV Haval setup, Carlos Sousa even feared we would be forced to give up, due to his co-driver Jean-Pierre Garcin’s neck injury, which forced the French to wear a cervical collar during the last two stages.
"We overcame unusual situations during this Dakar, but I think these give our result even more merit. Anyway, I think we proved the enormous potential this project can have in the future, in case the team decides to invest a little more in the preparation of the next Dakar and the solution of some fundamental problems with the car. But this is a decision that must be taken mainly by the team", revealed Carlos Sousa.
Now, Sousa is celebrating his 46th birthday tomorrow - and will meet with the vice-president of Great Wall Motors to discuss the future and eventually the renewal of his contract.
"No matter what the future may hold, I feel that I have already played my part, in order to give the world’s motor sport another team interested in investing and promoting itself internationally through the Dakar", concluded the driver, who is coming back to Portugal on January 23rd.
A final note to Zhou Yong’s good performance, who, despite the long delay of the first stage and the two-hour penalty, finished in the 20th position overall.
2012/01/15 | 20:50 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/ASO/HS