Dakar 1998, Hall and Meoni and small gestures that will remain in history

Many people ask me "Pat" on the helmet of Meoni in a video of the Dakar.
Nothing that, just that with Fabrizio had reached a great feeling and then I could "afford" to do something like.
The feeling grew over the years, starting from my first Dakar in 1998, When in a new year's Eve in Paris, a few hours after departure, asked me if we were to stay in the hotel room in front of the TV watching cartoons, When everyone was partying. I laughed and we started talking about Dakar and revealed to me some tricks to better address the race.
Always together in transfers, hours and hours in the saddle, and often in the rain, (do not wait to arrive in Africa), by sharing a few minutes stop at the outlets. "Forbidden" consummation when we stopped to get gas, told me the Dakar doesn't have to waste time and assistance you should arrive as soon as possible, "I remember it well!”.
In companies at the bivouac was a large, greetings and tips for all, Tuscan oil always in "table" in the sand of the bivouac, and some made him shoot the balls, had the cashier the right amount for race days, but then I did offer again. I wondered then an opinion, believer and active as always, We all know of his mission in Dakar.

Speaking of the city of Dakar, When in 2001 won for the first time the race, the dinner/party I forced to "get drunk". I couldn't see Fabrizio toast with Coke all night while KTM staff, on the contrary, make toasts his victory with wine and beer, so he set a goal to drink at least three glasses of wine during the evening, I replied: "and it takes?”. One two three in a row ... in less than half an hour we had a phenomenal fit Meoni, Austrian speaking like the toscano.

Strategic and combative just like a “Wild boar”, and so they called it, He knew Special assault with force and vehemence, but he also knew spending "without a trace".

In fact, It was the strategy that allowed him to win with the twin LC8, in a stage where you had to go on a Wait Point, situated atop a steep cliff, (What Rome tried to climb but then fell and dissolved). Fabrizio with a quick and clever reasoning of CAP (the degrees of the compass), He realized that Rome and I, We were leaving before him, We were on the wrong track, so went out of the track in order not to leave traces and, by cutting off the track for a few hundred metres, turned down the right track that carried on top of the cliff. So it was the only one to find in a short time the direction while we all "we grazed" in search of the track, wondering where it was finished Mahmoodi. The gap gained enabled him to win his second Dakar with a motorbike – believe me I assure you – really challenging, the LC8.

Outside of competition I shared with Fabrizio also many weeks of testing. On these occasions were consuming days and nights sharing room, discovering the various habits, Le manie, tastes, the most loved television programmes, food preferences, In addition to the ride side by side in the odious Chott soft sand for kilometre after kilometre to test the reliability of the engines under extreme conditions. He came to take 1.007 kilometers in one day on a ring of 38 km, (I made her 150 less). Also the development of LC8 was very interesting because it was an all new bike and Fabrizio surprised me with his sensibility when he realized that the position of the platforms was changed so that the bike will not turn.
Did the test, We were sparring in the gym, in the pool and running, but with him it was impossible, too practiced, even the very well-trained Arnaldo Nicoli knows something.
Forwarding remember the laughter at Battle of King, memorable to Ibiza. There was the race with the Jet Ski from Ibiza to Formentera, Fabrizio and I, "Old Sea Dogs", We chose the wrong model of jet skis to the open sea and arrived at the end so exhausted that we looked like two castaways.

I could tell you many stories, but I will not bore you, and so let me explain why the famous "slap" on the helmet.
Was the Dakar 1998 and we were in Mali, in the stage from Gao Taoudeni basin where for safety, saw your mileage, was cancelled the special that became a transfer of more than 1000 kilometers. As I said before, "he in Africa, He wanted to arrive early at the bivouac ", Thus he went to drive almost as if it was a special and I, by good portant d'eau, I had to be with him, but around km 800 I was beginning to have some balls full of keep a pace like that, so I went over and I gave him the famous "tap" to bring to your attention and warn that we could also slow down for a few kilometers, Since it didn't seem like very late, but he dropped that much on pace. He was right because, even though we were the first to arrive to the assistance, It was night by several hours, Since the last 150 kilometers ran among a tangle of slopes in the Fesh Fesh which, faced with the lights of headlights, It was very complicated to drive while striking the right CAP and balance.
Anyone who has tried knows what it's like.

Unfortunately, his favorite race has taken his own life, leaving a deep sadness to Elena, Joel e Chiara, as in all of us, but we will remember him always for his sympathy and helpfulness from Grand Champion and the person who was.

Giovanni Sala

Taken from Enduro rider Magazine nr. 42