In part two of a series, we search for answers from some of the Dakar’s biggest stars on what drives them to face rallying’s toughest challenge year after year:
GINIEL DE VILLIERS (South African, 2009 winner and currently 4th in the Car category - pictured above): “The main thing is simple: this is the world’s toughest endurance race. It’s the ultimate challenge for man and machine, and that’s what attracts us drivers to come back to the event year after year. It’s one of the ‘Great Human Adventures’; mentally and physically there’s nothing that compares to the Dakar in motorsport”.
FIRDAUS KABIROV (Russian, Two-time winner and current leader in the Truck category - pictured below): “I work full-time as an engineer in the Kamaz factory, so that’s how my interest in driving one of our trucks in the Dakar began - it’s the ultimate test for it. I feel very glad that we produce a truck that’s strong enough and fast enough to be competitive in the rally.”
NANI ROMA (Spanish, 2004 Bike winner, currently 19th in the Car category): “The Dakar is part of our lives. For sure this is my job and how I make a living, but it's also a unique opportunity to get to know new things - it’s a big adventure, and one that you have to prepare for several years to be able to copmete in. Also, to have the chance to run full-throttle across the desert is indescribable. To me, the Dakar is a way of life”.
LUC ALPHAND (French, 2006 winner in the Car category): “Initially, you just want to discover the race. I was a little kid and would watch it on TV, and the images of the desert, the open spaces, just fascinated me. Then when I finally did my first, I didn’t finish it - so I wanted to come back the next year to get to the finish line. Then after finishing on my second one, I wanted to win… It’s a bit like when you just dip your hand into the water, and next thing you know you’re entirely submerged at the bottom of the swimming pool. Also, the Dakar is so hard that just finishing it gives you an amazing feeling of accomplishment.”
RUBEN FARIA (Portuguese, currently 5th in the Bike category): “I began riding when I was five, and started off-roading when I was still very young. I believe every rider dreams of tackling the Dakar. I finally made my debut in 2006, and this thing simply become an addiction. I’ve never tried any drugs, but I can’t imagine any being as addictive as the Dakar. Sometimes when things go wrong during the stages I ask myself why am I here, and I swear I’ll never come back. But two weeks after it’s over, I’m already planning how the next Dakar will be”.
KRIS NISSEN (German, Volkswagen Motorsport team boss, currently 1-2 in the Car category with Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah): “Every auto manufacturer would like to have its products perceived as the most durable and high-performing. No other form of motorsport tests that as hardly as the Dakar. That is why Volkswagen is here. On a personal level, the logistical challenge of first managing such a complex operation, then turning it into a winning team and keeping it on top is what attracts me the most”.