by Giuseppe Dell'Olio
Paris and Dakar: names identifying two cities on paper Between them a thin tormented line drawn with ink: it's the line of adventure today, a line that in a handful of centimeters encloses thousands of kilometers of competition La Paris-Dakar is a tough race, a race of men and exasperated mechanical means, super organized teams, but that still leaves room for adventure, sacrifices, hopes and hopes illusions of so many who launch themselves head-on into the desert, towards that sea of sand and rocks that hides inscrutable secrets and a thousand pitfalls Gilera wants to prove it by deploying at the start two “RC 600” series entrusted to Luigino Medardo and the very young Roberto Mandelli
The 12th edition of the Paris-Dakar will kick off next 23 December. The great African marathon has now reached levels of competitive exasperation that have fantastic: official teams from the incredibly complex organization, motorcycles that are real prototypes costing hundreds of millions, designed and built with a single lens: win the terrible African desert. But it is still possible to participate and possibly well figure in the classic Christmas with a standard bike and a team that does not look like an army?
The question of whether the Gilera managers have asked it and they have also found an answer. Of course it's still possible. Just make a simple cocktails where the main ingredients are a good enduro at 4 sustained displacement times, a couple of riders who don't just look at the possibility of an absolute record, a small but efficient team, a truly sporting sponsor. At Arcore there were the “RC 600”, bike that won the Italian Raid Marathon Championship and that with a couple of additional tanks and a road-book seems born for the Ténéré, Luigino Medardo, who was waiting for nothing but to take her to Africa, by his side the very young Roberto Mandelli who, just to show his disbelief at the possibility that he was being offered, thought well about winning, on his debut in Africa, marathon standings for standard bikes at the Pharaohs Rally.
As for the sponsor at the Henninger, New10 have well thought that with the African heat who better than them could think of proposing a fresh and restorative drink to the men engaged in the deserts? And so the glorious House of Arcore decided to re-enter the eventful world of world-class competitions by enrolling two “RC 600” the Dakar. A highly anticipated return: many were nostalgic for the red-run Gilera. Maden, technical director and Gianni Perini, sporting director, enthusiastically welcomed the initiative and in a very short time the Gilera-Henninger team was born, in addition to the pilots of five other people including logistics and mechanics. The Gilera RC 600 that will start for Dakar have been prepared on the basis of the indications sca-turite by the victorious participations in the Italian Rally Marathon Championship and the Rally of Tunisia and the Pharaohs.
“They're standard bikes – confirms us Ing. Martini – and as such they don't want to aim for absolute primacy. We at Gilera just want to show that it is still possible to be at the Dakar even without super sophisticated prototypes that have nothing to do with the bikes we use every day.” “We are convinced – continues the d.t. Gilera – that a hard and exasperated race like the African rally can give very useful indications on the technical solutions and materials used in the production of series. And’ with this goal that we stand at the start of Paris: extreme testing of our production to offer customers an increasingly reliable and secure product. We set out to get to the bottom and well figure, but above all to know how far the bikes coming out of our factory can go.” To the expert Luigino Medardo, to roberto Mandelli's very young promise and to the “RC 600” the task of confirming these expectations at the Dakar finish line.
It's called “RC 600″ the Gilera that will be the protagonist of the 12” Paris-Dakar among the standard bikes of the class “Marathon Amelioré”. And’ was developed by the technicians of the Arcore House to show that, despite the exasperation now achieved by the prototypes that run in the desert, it is still possible to participate in the great Dakarian adventure by simple and inexpensive means, directly derived from normal-production motorcycles. Starting from the bike that everyone can find from the dealer, Arcore have made some, however very limited, technical changes to strengthen some details that during a grueling race such as the Dakar, are exasperatedly urged. Other improvements relate to the accessory equipment, integrated for the special needs of the race. The Gilera RC 600 It's a decidedly sporty enduro but not exasperated, designed to give the user real multi-functionality features.
And’ equipped with a single-cylinder powertrain 4 times of 569 CC. with two-sided distribution in the head controlled by tooth belt and four valves. The power supply provides two carburetors. The cooling is liquid with pump and three-way thermostatic circuit with electrowind and mixer. The ignition is electronic with capacitive discharge with variable automatic advance device. The cycling setting of this enduro spinner did not require substantial changes to the exasperated use in the race: a confirmation of the basic goodness of the Gilera project. The frame is a single-wheeled chrome-molybdenum steel with sheet metal reinforcements. The back is disassembled. The rear suspension adopts a lightweight alloy fork and a single-depreciation supported by the progressive cinematisms of the exclusive Gilera system “Power Drive”.
Few changes to deal with the terrible Ténéré.
One of the most difficult problems to solve in the preparation of a motorcycle for the Paris-Dakar is the arrangement of fuel. Add a lot of gasoline to the bike load – Gilera technicians reveal – creates many weight-sharing problems, especially in relation to the progressive emptying of the tanks. The Gilera RC 600 Paris-Dakar adopts three tanks: the main one in the classical position is doubled and con-holds anti-debate bulkts. With the two sides positioned behind the sides, the overall capacity reaches 56 liters of fuel. Of course, the tanks power the carburetors with the help of a membrane gasoline pump. The driver follows in the race a particular criterion for the use of the tanks: the first to be exploited so-no the two sides.
These are partially emptied and stored in each of about four liters of gasoline. Then the power passes on the main tank while the eight advanced litres in the side ones come to form an emergency reserve. Another aspect of African raid bikes that completely differs from the large series models is found in the instrumentation.
“Navigate” in the desert it's a little bit’ how to navigate the ocean and in fact the Gilera has equipped its bikes with special electronic compasses similar to those adopted by the boats that are facing the regatta around the world. These special compasses are able to signal any deviations from the route set by the pilot and also take into account the possible variations of indication induced by the magnetic tilt of the place where the measurement is made. Eliminating this margin of error, which is called magnetic declination, makes orientation much safer.
The compass is flanked by two professional trip masters and a road-book door that help to make the handlebars of these bikes a real cluster of indicators and tools that in the eyes of the non-experts appear a little’ strange and bizarre. Desert means an incredible variety of funds: from sharp rocks to softer sand. Tire hoops are therefore among the most stressed organs of the bike. The Gilera RC 600 adopts special alloy wheels with Michelin tyres equipped with the special “mousse” anti-drilling. Other minor changes were necessary to adapt the Gilera RC 600 extremely harsh features of African tracks. In particular, the calibration of the suspension has been retouched, have been adopting more durable pads for brakes, the exhaust marmist has been replaced with two freer trombones, the filter has been adapted to mitigate the major problems due to the dust. The engine shield, Finally, has been replaced and supplemented with an emergency drinking water tank. In define-va changes made to the Gilera RC 600 have been extremely limited. A wonderful confirmation of the goodness and reliability of the standard bike.
Luigino Medardo reveals all the secrets to driving in the desert
Getting to the bottom is the biggest challenge in the Dakar. And’ a terrible and beautiful race, decidedly unique. It is not easy to describe the sensations and emotions of a rider during this incredible race, Where – forgive me the rhetoric – the unexpected is the daily bread. The typical day of the Dakar starts with the alarm clock at 4,45. In a quarter of an hour you'll be (but this term when it comes to Paris-Dakar has a vaguely euphemistic sound), you dress up and devour breakfast. There are teas, Milk, Chocolate, Jam, Cookies. At 5 at this point the briefing of the race director who makes aware of any changes in the track and quickly summarizes the road-book of the stage. Then immediately to check the bike.
Every African racer has a very special relationship with his mechanical vehicle. I am not ashamed to say that during the race I speak with the (my bike, I have followed its birth and development and I think I know it even in the most hidden. For twenty days the bike is the most 1 Important. You may depend on the result of the race, but even more may depend on the pilot's very survival. I care about her very much, I take care of it personally, I always want it in the best shape, also from an aesthetic point of view. I think my wife is a little bit’ jealous of this red Gilera… But back to the day we're living in the desert. Contrary to what you might think of one of the problems of the Dakar is represented by the cold. In the first stages, up to Niger, the temperature is definitely low. In the morning in front of the tent the ground is frozen.
We leave for the first transfer with padded suits and undercoound, some are funny, look like the Michelin man… The transfer takes place in a group, without forcing. Departure of the special test: alignment and then every minute the commissioner sets off to a competitor. And’ the moment when the pilot forgets everything and everyone. Now there's only the bike, sand, the desert, the tracks of those in front of you and the road-book. The roar of the engine is like the throbbing of your heart. Concentration is very important: don't be fooled by the thousand pitfalls of the desert. The orientation is very challenging. You help each other by all means. You have to recognize the different types of background, the fresh traces from those of past years that remain imprinted on the sand as happens on the lunar soil. You have to dose your strength sparingly, resist hunger and thirst.
The PS (special test, Ed) of a rally like the Dakar is one of the most challenging tests ever for a driver. Sometimes you find yourself in two or more competitors running together. In the high rankings the competition is exasperated. Opponents study each other, you constantly check. There is no collaboration when you fight for the record. In the reinforcement positions, on the other hand, solidarity is found, you help each other, consulted to check the direction to be taken. Hours and hours like this, always very close to the physical limit of the rider and mechanic of the bike, without ever risking more than you should, not even in direct comparison (when it happens) near arrival. If this is near the bivou ac is the first person you look for with your eyes as soon as you see the finish line is your D.S.. which is a little bit’ a father and a guide for each driver.
If, after the ps there is still a transfer the friendly face is that of the timekeepers who give you a little’ and often have a word of encouragement. In this case, you'll stop a little’ nearby to control the positions of opponents, to pull a little’ breathless and refuel. Upon arrival at the bivou accom, you immediately look for your team and the first thought is for the maintenance of the bike. Meanwhile comes the sunset, that in the desert is very fast. At 18 it's sunny, After 5 minutes the darkness is absolute. Time to wash (always the particular washing-Dakar, that is, a little bit’ water on the face…) and eat the appetizing (!) Africatours and immediately to prepare the road-book for the next day's stage with the enigmatic (not to say mysterious) content of the box heated to bath-mary that meanwhile. goes crazy in the stomach.
After the road-book operation that needs to be done very carefully the pilot allows himself a few minutes of relaxation before going to sleep in the tent. You have to sleep as much as you can and, restn certain, in a race like the Dakar no one suffers from insomnia! Here's, this is Paris-Dakar. But it is also the outstretched hand of a local child who greets you in the middle of a desert, giving you that human warmth that's an indescribable push to move forward; it's the beauty of fairytale landscapes that you'd like to frame; it is the friendship that emanates in the evening around the fire. There are no normal things at Dakar. Everything is exasperated: peeing can be a little drama, resist the temptation to stop to eat-king the ration of muesli a sadistic torment. Great, magnificent Dakar, in the heart of the pilot only lacks the magical vision of that beach “damn” on the shores of the Atlantic. At least once in your pilot's life you have to get to the bottom. And then start dreaming again the time to start again for the next magical Dakar.