And’ been the rally of adventurers, the outburst of the sick of “Mal d'africa”, the expensive showcase of the international jet-set, the impossible race for real professionals and ended up creating a real fashion on which our industry has lived for some time. Following his example, desert competitions have begun to make themselves known and to grow in importance.
Then fashion is a little’ Changed; the cost of participating in these races has become unsustainable for private individuals and it seemed that they should disappear permanently from the international scene. But the African rally par excellence had the strength of “redo the trick” and re-propose itself as a driving example for other raids. Abandoned the frills and the useless, has returned to being concrete, engaging and spectacular and above all at your fingertips for everyone.
The new edition of the African Marathon hailed the fourth success of Edi Orioli, about Yamaha. The new formula is widely supported and brings this race back to discrete levels of interest. The duel between single-cylinder and twin-cylinder continues.
But unfortunately also tragic. The toll of human lives sacrificed by the Dakar, also for this year, it's sta-to heavy: two dead. Laurent Gueguen, 27 years, married and father of two children, behind the wheel of the Citroen assistance truck jumped on a mine (in all likelihood), during the fifth stage. Marcel Pilet, riding his KTM, crossing the village of Terambeli, in 30 miles from Labé, invested a little girl, killing her.
It goes on like this, Unfortunately, the long list of nefarious days that indelibly marks this competition, as if she were forced to pay a real toll for violating pristine lands. Always fatality or bad luck are the companions of the Dakar and in some ways have often had the upper hand over show and spirit of adventure, positive rally constants.
Over the years, the organisers have been looking for more suitable formulas for the needs of the pilots and the whole caravan that for a fortnight and beyond 10 thousand kilometers of pistes, faced this experience. Unfortunately, the choices have not always been right and often have the purpose of betraying the expectations, without guaranteeing that spectacle related to the adventure that remains the driving reason for this race.
Today, of that billionaire caravan that crossed the desert until a few years ago there was no trace left. Who would have thought. After hitting rock bottom in the years '93/94, almost forgotten, the Dakar, adventure for a few unstoppable lovers of confrontation with “the impossible”, has returned to arouse some interest among fans. And above all, motorcycle racing and motorcycle competition are the new driving force of this race.
Merit? Certainly of Hubert Auriol, ex-dakarian of the first hour, winner of two editions riding a two-wheeler and the last one sitting behind the wheel of a 4×4. The only driver capable of imposing themselves in these two categories. The French, current director of the TSO, seems to have guessed the right formula, referring to the rightful role of the queen of African competitions. He took hold of the sceptre of the Dakar in the 1994, after Gilbert Sabine's failed experience.
And soon he managed to give a new identity to this rally, following the principle of return to basics. The race has always lived on the presence of private individuals and those who were basically attracted by adventure and Africa. The current formula, In fact, allowed with an expense “Modest” compared to the recent past of signing up a little bit’ everyone. The experience gained by Auriol in these years and his own great passion for Africa, allowed the Dakar to return to being spectacular, charming and, as much as possible, Safe.
Especially the new director and his staff were able to identify and solve the problems and errors that in the past have conditioned this race. He needed a man with an iron fist, that he could decide for everyone, with responsibility for the lives of hundreds of people. A commitment that is no small feat, the one auriol hired, the newfound leader of this race. This year, the number of enrolments has increased by 25% compared to the edition 1995, reaching a record-breaking figure of almost 300 pilots, 140 bikers.
Competitors, In addition, they were able to discover an untold journey in the 70%, suitable for both the twin-cylinder and the new “Fashion” monocylinders. Few transfers, which according to Auriol deconcentrate the pilots and are often the cause of accidents and especially a particularly varied route, with 15 stages one different from the other. Particular attention has also covered the part of television coverage and press. with over 80 countries interested in live links with the stages of the raid.
Despite everything, the ineffable organization set up by the French ended up clashing with the fatality, the unexpected and the unavoidable event. But the rallies, as indeed all motor racing, i'm unfortunately also this. It is certain that this Dakar seems to be heading towards a new cycle, as well as all the rallies of this kind. La Desert Cannonball, The Tunisia Rally and the Atlas Rally are proof of this; have renewed their formula, taking into account the needs (also economic) of “Private” and having a fair amount of success.
The Houses have organized to sell in affordable numbers prepared bikes, ensuring adequate assistance in the race. This could be the “Track” right to return to give definitive interest to a spectacular motoring discipline.
FOURTH SUCCESSO: EDI INDOMABILE
Lake Rosa greeted the “Poker” by Edi Orioli. The 33-year-old ceresetto driver from Martignacco hit his fourth Dakar. A success that came a little’ to surprise, but explainable by his long experience in rallies. Edi from these races he inherited everything, Success, Money, professional accolades, as much as even victories in international enduro had assured him.
The latter was one of the toughest editions of the Dakar. The new route was particularly difficult and although the GPS gave a huge hand to the competitors, navigation and especially tactical and race intelligence have had their decisive weight. The return of the route along the slopes of Mauritania, Iguekkateme's pitch, always in that area, and the hard track of Guinea, were decisive.
Only 50 pilots on arrival on 140 motorcyclists who kicked off. The 6.000 miles of special tests have left their mark. To get to the goal it was necessary to save the means and the energies. And then the contestants presented themselves with an unusual scenario, l’“herbe à chameaux” or infernal bushes among the sand and the dunes that broke the rhythm, but above all the arms. In the first and last part of the route, especially, abundant rain has allowed this type of vegetation, literally translated into “camel grass”, to grow lush, creating an additional obstacle.
Many stage covers, it starts with Heinz Kinigadner, the first favorite to leave the stage with his KTM, retired to fifty kilometres from the finish line of stage six. The Austrian had to return home with
a success and two second places. Different fate for Jordi Arcarons, KTM Lucky Strike team, the only one able to chase the wild Orioli, even though he finished second in over an hour from the Yamaha rider. Unlucky performance of the Italian team Cagiva CH Racing by Roberto Azzalin. Three official Cagiva Elefant motorcycles under the Kremlyovskaya brand were deployed, rely on David Trolli, Alexander Nifontov and Cyril Esquirol.
The Italian was in the race until the third stage, capturing two partial successes, two second places and two thirds. Unfortunately, he had to give up due to engine problems when he was back in the top flight. The turning point of the race took place during the stage leading to Zouerat, when the favorite Stephane Peterhansel had major problems with his twin-cylinder. The complaint
presented by Yamaha Motor France spoke of diesel in the tank instead of gasoline; the findings were not able to fully ascertain the cause and therefore the organisation rejected the complaint. Peterhansel, with almost three hours late on the first, had asked for the trial to be annulled; not satisfied he decided to abandon the race in the form of protest.
At this point began the solitary gallop of Edi Orioli, become the new leader of the general classification. Controlled Trolli and later Arcarons, with a sufficient margin of advantage to drive loosely. A small power problem, probably dirty gasoline for him too, made him lose precious minutes, as a problem with the rear shock forced him to slow down considerably in the last stage.
A win apiece also for Kari Tiainen Husqvarna and Thierry Magnaldi by Yamaha. As for the Italians, In addition to Trolli he has behaved well Fabrizio Meoni riding the KTM with two personal successes and a 39th place finish. There is also good evidence of Guido Maletti Kawasaki, sixth in the absolute, Maximus Church eighth, Emmanuel Christian 13th, Aldo Winkler Nineteenth, Angelo Fumagalli 20th and Alberto Morelli forty-nineth.
Taken from Motorcycling
Text: Biagio Shirts
Photo: Gigi Soldano DPPI