Motorsports Mondial

FREDERIC LE FLOCH / DPPI

Dakar Rally, The legend of Iquique

Built on the dizzying height of a steep descent with an average gradient of 32% over 2 kilometres of sand. On arriving at the summit of this gigantic dune, the riders and drivers discover a breath-taking view over the Pacific Ocean. They then hurtle down to the bivouac at frightening speeds: the quickest bikers at around 150 kmph whilst Robby Gordon is said to have been clocked yesterday at more than 190 kmph. However, for those arriving at night, it is a completely different affair. In principle, those who reach the descent very late have, by definition, already experienced a tough day. Such was the case for Juan Dibos, who took on the descent in a car already damaged after being rolled, and with co-pilot sporting an injured shoulder: “I was feeling fairly good, but I took it slowly at 40 kmph”. His Peruvian countryman, Jesus Lopez, who finished this feat a little earlier, admitted a moment of apprehension on heading over the dune’s crest: “You can’t even imagine what there is afterwards. It’s like a leap into the void”. Michel Saumet, whose rapid assistance duties tend to cause him to err by caution, takes a similar view: “At night, it’s really scary. I went down at 15 kmph”. However, the Dakar has room for all types of temperaments, even in the middle of the night: “It’s easy. We went straight down without braking,” claimed Claudio Hidalgo and Sebastian Palma.