“Let’s not forget: the Dakar is meant to be difficult”
Dakar 2023 |
December 29 th 2022 - 15:24 [GMT + 3]
Though the Dakar may well boast a plethora of legends, few of them can boast to have taken part twenty times in the most mythical of rally-raids. In a few days’ time, this will be the case for Christian Lavieille.
Since his first participation in 2003, the man who now lives in the Var area of France and who earned his letters of nobility in Endurance biking has always managed, each year in early January, to take starter’s orders on the Dakar. “When I finished my career as a biker, my dream was to race the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Dakar,” confides Christian. “I’ve been able to do it thanks to partners who have followed me from the world of bikes to cars. As one thing led to another, I also found others. What’s more, a victory with Porsche in the Trans-Siberian Rally opened other doors for me… Afterwards, I drove for Chinese constructors with Japanese cars, before an adventure with Toyota. Now I’ve been back with MD for the last three years and they are a team of enthusiasts, I wouldn’t change them for the world”. Enthusiasm is a word often used by Christian Lavieille. He uses it to talk about his team, but also about his partners who passionately follow his races. “When I think about this twentieth Dakar on the horizon, I see twenty Dakar rallies filled with passion and discoveries, but also adventures and thrills,” explains the Frenchman. “Working to develop the car is something that I have always adored. There is also the improvisation and managing the unknown… It’s all these things that give me the desire to keep coming back, even if it is increasingly difficult to find the budget to ensure I’ll be on the starting line”. Out of his twenty participations, Christian has an especially fond memory of the 2015 edition. “It was the finest rally for me insofar as I enjoyed my best result by finishing sixth with the Toyota Overdrive team,” he points out. As for the most remarkable, it has to be the 2005 edition in Africa: “Two nights without a wink of sleep and some unforgettable moments”. For his twentieth start, the MD Rallye Sport team driver, who is now part of a crew with Valentin Sarreaud, has the sole ambition of doing his best and avoiding any pitfalls. “To do that, you have to try and jump on the right wagon and try and get as close as you can to the best. We aren’t going to win the rally but others could lose it”. In any case, Christian Lavieille is hoping for a tough and complicated race. “Last year it was too fast,” he believes. “The Dakar spirit involves knowing how to take your time, managing the difficult parts and looking after the machine… Let’s not forget: the Dakar is meant to be difficult”.