2010 Dakar Begins
After a starting ceremony attended by more than 300,000 people in Buenos Aires, the competitors in the Dakar left Buenos Aires and headed to the first bivouac. This is where the first special stage will start tomorrow morning.
If they needed extra motivation to finish the entire rally, the collective show of affection spread along six kilometers gave the competitors a further reason to make it back to Buenos Aires. The 362 riders, drivers and crews who made up the official list of starters on completion of scrutineering were nevertheless deprived of the company of Javier Pizzolito who suffered the first bad luck of the Dakar: the Argentinean amateur’s bike set fire before it had even left the restricted enclosure.
The remaining 361 drew on the energy of the crowds, something that some of them had already tasted in 2009. Obviously, these are thrills that the competitors never tire of. The Argentinean competitors, twice as many as last year, headed for the obelisk full of patriotic emotions. The others, who have travelled the oceans to experience this moment of communion, found it more difficult to gauge the extent of the phenomenon.
Boosted by this magnificent session of encouragement and applause, the vehicles enrolled in the Dakar then revved up for the first time on this edition, with a problem free journey out into the Pampa. To avoid a too early start when the stop watches will be set running tomorrow, the organisers set up a first bivouac at Colon, near to the starting point of the special stage.
Today, a 317-kilometer link stage on road was on the menu. It was hardly a perilous exercise for these adventurers who will be getting to grips with a 9,000 meter loop, in which they will have to tackle the sand dunes in Chile’s Atacama Desert. But today in Colon, the competitors are already asleep in their tents. The Dakar is underway.
Photography by J. van Oers (Compliments of KTM)