Miroir’s reflections on the Dakar

Dakar 2024 | Stage 8 | AL DUWADIMI > HAIL
January 15 th 2024 - 22:52 [GMT + 3]

Jérémy Miroir is one of the three rookies riding for the Fantic team. The Italian brand has selected three young enduro champions: Englishwoman Jane Daniels, Italian Tommaso Montanari and Frenchman Jérémy. All three have been entrusted with getting the constructor’s machines to Yanbu. On the evening of stage 8, Miroir returned to the bivouac towed by Jane. “A real taste of how tough the Dakar can be”.

 “You can say that on the Dakar one day is very much not like another. Yesterday, I navigated well and finished as the leading rookie, so everybody was happy. But this evening, it was like a cold shower, but it’s all part of the learning curve”.

Jérémy was walking around the bivouac at dusk, instead looking for a well-needed hot shower at a busy time of day at the sanitary facilities dotted around the bivouac. Miroir got cold on the long link stage to the bivouac, which he finished at the end of a towrope.

“I hit a rock which ricocheted up and put a whole in the engine, giving me an unwanted oil drain right there. Jane kindly towed me for 50 kilometres. It was getting tricky, because we were in amongst big rocks and the cars, which were kicking up fesh-fesh. The towrope was tiny. We hadn’t fallen up to that point, but we both fell God knows how many times. But she didn’t give up and, to be honest, if she hadn’t been there, I would have dropped out of the rally, whereas now I can resume the race tomorrow without having my number crossed out”.

Being struck out is what the amateurs fear the most. What Jérémy is referring to is when a rider’s number is stuck on an orange background that excludes the competitor from the final rankings and prevents them from being classed as a finisher. On paper, Jérémy has just what it takes to complete his first Dakar. The man from the Auvergne region is a professional enduro rider in France and has been riding since 2016 at the very highest level on the domestic scene, even winning the famous Six Days on the international stage as part of the junior team in 2017. He is a specialist of the ‘Classics’, these enduro races combining professionals and amateurs with a field of more than 500 participants during three days of competition, and he has for a long time been one of the top riders in France. They are like mini-Dakar rallies on a national scale and have witnessed the passage of such illustrious names as Moralès, Lalay, Sainct, Peterhansel or Despres, who form a big part of the gallic dynasty of winners on the Dakar since the 1990s. Jérémy’s father, Jean-Luc, competed in time-trials with the names mentioned above, before also joining the ranks of the rally-raid discipline, a not unusual choice in that era. Today, his father is a well-known figure in the Dakar organisation team, firstly in charge of the ‘Charlies’, the intermediate check point vehicles, before becoming sporting and logistics coordinator. As you can see, it was the destiny of the son of ‘Miroy’, as his father is nicknamed, to come and compete on the Dakar one day.

© Marcelo Machado de Melo

 But far from taking this career path for granted, at the dawn of his thirties, Jérémy gave himself two years to learn. First on an enduro bike, which he mastered perfectly, winning the Rally 3 category on the Andalucia Rally in 2022, before scoring a Top 10 on the Baja Aragon and becoming Italian Moto Rally champion. He is a future French hopeful, let's not mince words, who has come here without any sporting pressure, simply to discover the workings of the Dakar. With two fresh stitches on the bridge of his nose, the result of a stone ricocheting into his face, the Fantic official rider is in high spirits. He has had his share of setbacks during years of enduro racing, but those in Saudi Arabia are on a different scale: “The pace of the Dakar is crazy for two weeks. You have to constantly optimise how you use your time. The days are long, you spend hours on the bike – which doesn’t bother me – but we get up really early and have to ride a long way at night. I’m not going to say it’s all for nothing, because you have to get to the start of the special or the next bivouac. On the specials, there are some days when others overtake me and I have no idea who they are, but that’s the way it is. I’ve always wanted to be here and the more it goes on, the more it makes me want to come back again. I’ll have other problems, I’m sure of it. It’s good to start from the bottom rung of the ladder again, to put your ego aside and accept that you’re making your beginnings in a new sphere”.

These are humble words learned from the French school of riding, for which he is perhaps the next great hope. France is still searching for a new winner to increase the total of its 22 triumphs. Van Beveren is the first in line, as Miroir eagerly watches on today.

© Marcelo Machado de Melo

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