The Dakar has always had a link with the world of football. Late French international striker Raymond Kopa competed back in 1985 and the national coach of the 1984 European champion squad, Michel Hidalgo, even finished 21st of the 1991 rally. Another prestigious coach will be on the start line of the 40th edition. André Villas Boas will indeed live his dream in a Toyota Hilux alongside his compatriot and former biker Ruben Faria. AVB’s passion for the race goes way back. His uncle Pedro indeed competed back in the early eighties, even managing to finish the rally in an UMM, a 100% Portuguese car. Winner of the Europa League with Porto back in 2011, Villas Boas started competing on bikes at an early age. His initial idea was to compete on a KTM but under the guidance of his friend Alex Doringer, in charge of the KTM Factory team, and busy with his football career that took him from Porto to Shanghai via Chelsea, Tottenham and Saint Petersburg, it was wiser to settle with four wheels. And this 40th edition came at a perfect timing. Not only is the Portuguese free of all contracts, he also just turned 40. A fine competitor, he will be surrounded by the best of what off-road rallies have to offer: a fast and reliable car and a co-driver, Ruben Faria who finished second of the Dakar, on a KTM in 2013. AVB knows the challenge remains massive and only has the finish line in Cordoba in mind. And for his first Dakar, there will be no sponsors on his car but only charities (Laureus, Ace-Africa and APPACDM) for whom he’ll be a proud ambassador.
A.V.B.: “The Dakar was in my mind for quite some time. Racing runs in the blood of my family and my dream was to do the Dakar one day. The fact that it’s the 40th edition and that I just turned 40 made me decide to go for it this year. As a boy, my father would take me each year to the Estoril circuit to watch the Formula One race or to the WRC leg in Portugal. My uncle also took part in the Dakar in the early eighties. He wrote a book on his adventures that I read with passion. I hope he will be at the start or finish to see me. I also remember going to the prologue of the Dakar in 1999, in Granada. I’m more used to riding bikes than driving cars. My first idea was actually to do it on a bike just after my period at Zenit Saint-Petersburg. I spoke to my good friend Alex Doringer of KTM and he told me I would need one year of preparation and that it was probably better to do it in a car. So I contacted Overdrive. The important thing is that I’m surrounded by the best. It’s great to have Ruben Faria at my side. He has so much experience. He will help me find the good way. I’m a latin and emotional person, so maybe he will need to calm me down. Other than the dunes, the mental fatigue worries me. I’m used to tell people to run rather than running myself. Obviously the Dakar is totally different to what I’m used to in football. I have to get the hang of it. The Dakar has grown to become the greatest adventure of all. I’ve been chasing it since I was a boy, so now it’s a dream to participate. I want to make the best of it and not be out after just a day. My humble objective is to reach the finish in Cordoba.”
André Villas-Boas is a name with a familiar ring to it, for a good reason. The famous football manager, who won the Europa League with FC Porto in 2011 and managed Chelsea as well as Tottenham Hotspur, is also a big fan of all-terrain biking and took starter’s orders on his first Dakar behind the wheel of a souped-up Overdrive Team...
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