Photo Gigi Soldano
Text by Biagio Maglienti from Motorcycling
Ciro said stop; enough with the Dakar and the races. "At the age of thirty-eight," says Alessandro De Petri, in art "Ciro” — it is also necessary to be able to stop.. Knowing him we know how much this decision may have cost him. So much so that he wanted to end an important parenthesis of his life in an un traumatic way, siding at the start of the 16th Dakar as a simple participant, almost a tourist. "But do not think it was still easy — continues the bergamot - to repress my instincts. I had to impose a form of self-control. In the first stages, De Petri prevailed as a driver. I didn't make it.; i opened the handcuff as usual, risking like a Crazy. Absurd! At the end of the second special I was 35th; I left and started pulling. I've overtaken almost everyone, coming a minute from the first. I passed them in the most unexpected places, Difficult, risking the whole thing. Then I reflected; i realized that wasn't the reason why i had decided to take part in this race again. In the next stage I started and, routes ten kilometers, i stopped. I put the bike on the easel and waited a quarter of an hour. It was a real pain to see others pass by and I stood there still; but in the end I did it. Curbed competitive instinct I started my real Dakar; a Dakar from “Explorer”, to appreciate everything in these eleven years I had missed. New emotions, places and people; i photographed everything in my mind and soon, indeed very soon I will tell it in a book. Of course, not for protagonism or for profit (the proceeds will go to charity). Only to give once and for all the real face of a race too often not understood..
Alessandro De Petri said enough at thirty-eight years old, after winning for three times the Pharaohs Rally, two tunisia, collecting a total of 67 partial stage successes. For years he was the Italian symbol of this type of competition. He missed it, perhaps more out of bad luck than for other reasons, the important victory. The Dakar daydreamed on several occasions, of which he heard the scent several times and which adverse fate has always denied him. But De Petri doesn't seem to care about this “small” Particular.
"It is clear, it weighs me never to have won a Dakar, because as a professional pilot as I was, don't win this competition it's kinda’ See fade the dream for which you have committed all your strength and part of your life. However, by objectively analysing the problem, without making any illusions, i'm equally satisfied. If I had run this race with another head I probably wouldn't have missed the success. My exuberant character prevented me from. With this I deny nothing of what I have done in recent years. I'm so in the race and in life, I couldn't have behaved differently. If I were to go back I would do everything, I would not change anything and above all I would never change my partial successes with a final victory".
The Dakar is a tough race, Unlivable, but that's why fascinating. "It is unique in the world," continues Ciro, "and only those who participated in it can really understand the motivations that drive pilots to face superhuman efforts, putting a strain and sometimes exceeding the limit of endurance for any living being". And ten years of Dakar don't forget so easily. Especially if, as in the case of De Petri, were an integral part of his life as a pilot and inevitably as a man.
I didn't make it.; i opened the handcuff as usual, risking like crazy, Absurd!
So Ciro begins: "What an incredible adventure. My past is inextricably linked to the motorcycle. I started competing very early and with good results, in the cross and enduro. Third in a world cross 125 and European enduro champion. Then I decided to abandon racing to devote myself to my main activity, that of dentist. But the future was about to reserve me something extraordinary. At twenty-eight I heard about a race with a “Crazy” that crossed the entire desert to Dakar, starting from Paris. He competed against cars and won.".
For the record, the “Crazy” it was Neveu and the race the Paris-Dakar "I had no doubt and embarked on what would later become, shortly, my true profession. I went to Farioli and asked for a motorcycle; then I bought a used Range-Rover and hired Felicino Agostini (Brother of Giacomo and brother-in-law of De Petri) and Giacomo Vismara. The adventure had begun..
You look at him and his face betrays the emphasis. The first experience and the last one are undoubtedly the ones that involve him the most on an emotional level. Memories fill it up and overlap. He remembers to Claudio Towers, an illustrious stranger, but… "The Dakar, i wouldn't fall into the rhetoric, it's a real school of life. It teaches you to fight, to get away with it yourself and help you understand people. One character in particular remained in my heart. A “Private”, the Milanese architect Claudio Torri. He showed up at the start with us in the 1983. It was for everyone the first experience, but for him it was even more so. He had already half destroyed (Physically) prologue and continued his work of annihilation in the continuation of the competition. When boarding for Africa he risked not expatriating; had laid his papers and wallet on the saddle of the bike. When the helicopter got up in the air the air shift lifted the documents and money that ended up in the water. Then, a few days later, bordering on the comedian and the grotesque, in an attempt to straighten the handlebars of my bike, helping Agostini, took the hammer in his hand and absent-mindedly hammered himself in the head. For almost the entire race Torri was the protagonist of a continuous event of this kind. Never a lament. Consecutive hours and hours in the saddle without saying a word: fantastic and amazing!».
Among the memories also the myth, sabine's. Dakar is linked to this name for better or for worse. De Petri remembers him like this: "It is not he was never wrong, was able to make important decisions, on which depended the safety of the entire caravan of the Dakar He was always right and the pilots, the mechanics and all the entourage following the race began to blindly trust this French out of nowhere, until his figure has become a constant point of reference for all of us, a beacon to follow. And when he missed, when the news came that the helicopter had crashed to the ground, the whole caravan in silence has returned in its own footsteps going to the site of the tragic event. It was night; when we arrived there was an apocalyptic scene: sheets scattered everywhere, there was not the slightest sign of life. I can never forget..
This is the Dakar, in its strongest accents, remembered by Ciro De Petri. The terrible accident at the Pharaohs in the 1992 convinced him to abandon. "Yes probably the spring that triggered in me the decision to stop also came as a result of the accident. Two months in a coma is no joke. But, it's going to look weird, a nonsense, the accident was an opportunity to get back in the saddle again, for the last time. Coming out of the horns I slowly recovered, but I was left with a kind of numbness and tiredness; a real torment. One morning, three months ago, i decided i'd come back to run. I resumed training and immediately i passed all the ailments; i'd already won, even before starting the race".