Coma, Despres and Rodrigues First three riders off in Dakar 2012.jpg © Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool

The Dakar’s time in Mar del Plata was fun while it lasted but the people driving the 443 vehicles in this year’s desert classic couldn’t wait to get put themselves to the test on the long road to Lima.

It was another busy day in the scrutineering section of the Dakar Village as about 200 bikes were wheeled through and given the once over. Like every other aspect of the Dakar Rally, reputation counts for nothing in the inspection tent as three-time champion Marc Coma and his team-mate Joan Pedrero were put through their paces just like everybody else.

“Finally we have passed through scrutineering and everything is fine. We are now looking forward to starting the race after these past days in Mar del Plata. The tension is becoming too much. There are always difficult moments that crop up at the last second and ironing out those creases is important if we are to succeed. Now my mind is on the race and nothing else.” - Marc Coma

“It’s always a big relief to pass the scrutineering tests because it’s always a cumbersome part of the preparations. Everything went well thanks to the professionalism of my team and sponsors. I’m so grateful to feel this level of support behind me because it allows to focus fully on the job I came here to do, race.” – Joan Pedrero

Also on clear to all in the scrutineering section of the Dakar Village is the blossoming bromance between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres. Like fine wine the pair, who have won the last six Dakars between them, seem to be mellowing with age.

“Things have calmed down a lot between us. I think we are both much happier to be starting the race in this frame of mind.” – Cyril Despres.

Once their machines had been given the all clear it was time for the bikers to join the rest of Dakar competitors at the departure ceremony in Plaza Colon. The crowds whooped and hollered for each of the 443 vehicles that mounted the podium before speeding along Mar del Plata’s seafront.

Helder Rodrigues, fresh from his coronation as Portugal’s 2011 Sportsman of the Year, was looking as relaxed as ever as he pulled off a few crowd pleasing wheelies before leaving his fellow bikers with a warning.

“Everyone should take the chance to relax tonight because when tomorrow comes we all have to put our chips on the table.” – Helder Rodriguez

 

null© Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool
   

Someone else looking to put a cat among the pigeons is Giniel de Viliers. The South African already has one Dakar car class title to his name and he took the chance in Mar del Plata to sow a seed of doubt among his rivals.

“I can admit that our performance is not as good as the X-Raid Minis but in Morocco we saw that their car is not perfectly reliable. Our strategy will be to stay close and take advantage of any mistakes they make.”

Dakar Digit: 178 motorcycles, 30 quads, 161 cars and 74 trucks will start the 2012 Dakar Rally. How many will make it to the finish line? Right here is the best place to find out…

Dakar Digit: 443

178 motorcycles, 30 quads, 161 cars and 74 trucks will start the 2012 Dakar Rally. How many will make it to the finish line? Right here is the best place to find out…

 

null© Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool
     

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