Adventure is the watchword for Jesús Calleja
January 9 th 2019 - 06:30 [GMT -5]
Jesús Calleja explores the notion of adventure in all its dimensions. For more than twelve years, his television programme Desafio Extremo (extreme challenges) has taken him to the most remote places on the Earth, from the summit of Mount Everest to the Krubera-Voronya Cave in Georgia, the deepest underground cavity on the planet, not forgetting the North and South Poles or flying over the Amazon rain forest in a hot air balloon. “I love records and I like doing anything that is really tough. So, when I thought about a car race, it was the most demanding one in the world that I wanted to finish: the Dakar. Even when I was a kid, I was amazed by the pictures of Ari Vatanen zooming through the desert,” explains this hyperactive jack-of-all-trades, who has already tried his luck twice on the event. In 2011, he chose to do it the hard way, with a less robust vehicle and very little assistance. Last year, his project was rather more solid, but the pleasure of racing came to a grinding halt in a dip between two dunes where the hopes of many other crews were crushed. This year, Jesús is driving a Toyota Hilux prepared by Team Overdrive and swears that as long as the Dakar resists his attempts to tame it, then he will keep coming back. What could be his downfall is getting caught up in the competition, which proves to be true as soon as things get tricky. After the first stage and his 22nd placed finish, he lost time due to a distraction on the way to San Juan de Marcona: “We were coming down off a superb dune towards the ocean and it was such a wonderful sight that I lost my concentration. I got stuck in the sand and we spent one and a half hours digging ourselves out”. Never mind – the man with one million fans on Facebook takes the rough with the smooth… as long as it does not completely put paid to his hopes!