Triathlons, skiing, motor racing
Addison Lee, Shackleton
"I think it's a war of attrition."
Liam Griffin is certainly not a man to shy away from a new challenge. A graduate of Loughborough University, which is renowned for its sporting excellence, the 47-year-old is a remarkable all-rounder. He's a qualified skiing instructor who played semi-professional football before moving into running events; as well as completing Ironman competitions, he has represented Ireland in triathlon at the World and European championships. Liam is also passionate about motorsport, having spent over a decade racing in competitions such as the British Touring Car and British GT Championships. He has also done the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, finishing 7th and 5th in the GTE-AM class. Seeking a fresh challenge, the Barnet native decided to try his hand at the Dakar, which he first watched on television as a teenager. As well as his considerable experience on the track he has taken part in a handful of rally raids, including the Rallye du Maroc, and admits that it will be tricky to find the right balance of pace and prudence over the Saudi Arabian sands. Liam will be joined by French co-driver Stéphane Duplé -who has already done the Dakar 6 times- as he gets behind the wheel of a brand-new Polaris RZR Pro XP. It's a rare thing nowadays for a British driver to have a go at both Le Mans and the Dakar, so this year will see Liam following in the footsteps of illustrious names like Vic Elford and Colin McRae. The Polaris has not been tested to the max due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Liam and Stéphane are still hopeful of a successful outing.
L.G.: "I went to Loughborough University and played semi-pro football until my early 30s, then once I got injured I ended up getting into running, triathlons. I competed for Ireland at the European Championships in age-group triathlon, then went to the World Championships in Australia, and ticked that box. I love ticking a box! I've done loads of motor racing. I did 3 years of British Touring Cars, then went into British GT, and I ended up doing Le Mans in 2016 and 2018, once with Aston Martin and once with Ferrari. After I'd done that, everything else was a bit of an anti-climax. I was like, 'What should I do next?' So I had a look around. I'd actually watched the Dakar in a French hospital in Bourg-Saint-Maurice when I was 14 years old, having a metal plate put in my arm. I was in hospital for a week, and the only thing I could really follow on TV was the Dakar. So I've always kept an eye on it. I was introduced to the guys at Bowler and I did the Tuareg Rally and the Morocco Desert Challenge. I also did the 2019 Rallye du Maroc with Xtremeplus and I was hoping to then do Dakar last year, but ended up going back into the business. And this year it came up as a bit of last-minute opportunity. I thought, 'There's nothing else going on in the world, why not use the time productively and try to do Dakar!' So here I am. I was trying to find out how many Brits have done both Le Mans and Dakar. We could think of a handful of Europeans who have done it, like Fernando Alonso, Jacky Ickx, but we couldn't come up with any Brits, and I'm sure there must be some! But it's not a long list. Everyone says Le Mans is the toughest race – it's not. These are such long days in comparison. At Le Mans, you do a 2 or 3-hour stint, at a push. On the Dakar you could be doing up to 8-12 hours a day, driving yourself! So that's tough. You know what's coming at Le Mans, you don't know what's coming here. Stéphane has worked with the team before. He's done 6 Dakars, and we need someone who's got a bit more experience than me or my previous co-drivers, which has been basically my mates. So Stéphane has stepped into the breach. I know that I can be reasonably on the pace, but I don't think that's the objective this time round. Obviously, everyone wants to try and finish, and I'm no different to that. But then you also want to be a little bit respectable in terms of pace. So it's a very fine line you have to try and tread. We'll see. I think it's a war of attrition. If you can be there after the first week, you can take a view on how hard you want to push it."
XTREMEPLUS POLARIS FACTORY TEAM
- Marque : POLARIS
- Modèle : RZR PRO XP
- Préparateur : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
- Assistance : Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team
- Classe : T4.1 SSV de série turbo
Toute l'actualité de L. Griffin
Griffin dans la galère
Coup dur pour Liam Griffin, arrêté depuis plusieurs dizaines de minutes au km 208 de la spéciale avec une roue arrachée sur son Polaris. Le Britannique, qui découvre le Dakar, est contraint d’attendre son assistance pour espérer réparer.
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