The motorcycles, cars and trucks, who will be sharing the tracks from Saturday onwards, invaded the La Rural exhibition center for the first session of technical inspection.
In the long aisles of the hall, the riders and crews had plenty of stands to visit for various techincal inspections.
On completion of this rather easy obstacle course, in principle the protagonists emerged on a level playing field, with their "scrutineering booklet" duly stamped, allowing them to park their motorcycles in the secure enclosure while awaiting the grand start.
The mainly relaxed atmosphere did not prevent the mood from becoming competitive however, since this first official outing of the machines gave their owners the opportunity to let their intentions be known.
While the major favorites are expected on Friday, Pal-Anders Ullevalseter, 2nd last year, for example shared his feelings about the brand new KTM 450cc that he will be riding this year: "I can’t wait to get stuck in. The 450cc is fantastic".
The latest version of the Yamaha 450cc, which could also find itself on the final podium in a little more than two weeks’ time, was presented by Jordi Viladoms and Jonah Street.
As for BMW, Brazilian rider Zé Helio, a last minute addition, will attempt to help spectators forget the withdrawal of David Frétigné: "I’ll be riding for him. The Top 10 would be good and the Top 5 would be a dream!"
2011 Dakar Argentina & Chile Facts & Stats
- 9500 km, including 5000 competitive km over 13 stages
- 430 competitors at the start
- 2500 people at the bivouac
- 2000 breakfasts / 1600 rations / 1000 lunches and 2300 dinners/ bivouac
- 12000 bottles of water / bivouac
- 25 000 police officers and national security guards mobilized
- 350 000 safety fliers handed out along the route