A sore boar charges on
Dakar 2023 |
Stage 10 |
January 11 th 2023 - 11:35 [GMT + 3]
Jean-Luc Ceccaldi-Pisson dreamed of a podium spot in Dammam, but he will have to settle for a finisher's medal in the best-case scenario. It may not be the result that he had hoped for, but the difficulties of the 45th Dakar and a slew of mechanical problems mean that he and his co-driver, Cédric Duplé, would be more than satisfied with that outcome.
Jean-Luc Ceccaldi-Plisson has been struggling almost from the first minute. Yesterday, the driver of the Zéphyr 306 could not bring himself to smile at the end of the special from Riyadh to Haradh. "Seeing us ranked 115th out of 115 feels like a punch in the gut", he said. "We are competitors above all else. We always look at the top of the board, not the bottom." Two years ago, Jean-Luc came in fifth in his Dakar debut. "We only just missed the podium due to a penalty", he clarifies. Last year, paired with Jean Brucy, he had a series of problems, leaving him to pin his hopes for a return to the top on the 2023 edition. Alas, it was not to be. "We'd had a good midweek, though", he stresses. "We were fifth in T3… And then, here we go again, the axle breaks after 70 km... We don't even know why… It was the second one that gave up on us… Then there was a pedal box, followed in short order by the steering, leaving us without power steering for 300 k. It ticks me off because things had been looking up for two days… And then, kaboom… Down we go again. But hey, it's the Dakar that decides, we need to deal with it." Jean-Luc and Cédric have sought solace in the prospect of a tumultuous end to the rally. "David Castera has always got a few surprises in store for the last days of racing", starts Jean-Luc. "In the Empty Quarter, we'll be having dunes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, you know what, I love sand." Born on Corsica, the man whose friends call him "The Boar" for his ability to keep going in the face of adversity intends to give it his all until the finish. "I like the format of this Dakar. It's a little harder than last year, so the amateurs have to dig deep to clear each stage. Between the adverse weather conditions and the pain that the first week inflicted on man and machine alike… Those who get a finisher's medal will have truly earned it." Jean-Luc Ceccaldi-Plisson is a latecomer to rally raids. Yet, with a lorry driver as his father, training in the automobile industry and membership of the Compagnons du Devoir professional association, he had never been too far from mechanics and motor sports. "My friends signed me up for the Eco Race for my 50th birthday. We quickly bought a vehicle, tuned it in the garage and took the plunge just like that…" That was back in 2019. "It was a challenge, but we did well, so we decided to keep going." Jean-Luc took up his second challenge after undergoing a quadruple bypass that should have put an end to his sporting ambitions. "My cardiologist told me I wouldn't be able to drive a car any more, let alone in the desert because of the heat… No problem, it's not too hot this year!"