Racers ready for rally.jpg

Racers ready for rally


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The BUILD up to one of the world’s biggest events in all-terrain racing has begun.

The Euromillions Lisbon-Dakar Rally 2007 begins on January 6 and Portuguese participants have been travelling the length of the country to help publicise the competition.

Elisabete Jacinto, driving a Man 2000 truck, presented her vehicle in Belém, Lisbon, last month and began touring in it around Portugal, stopping off in cities and villages throughout the country.

She will start the race among the first 15 drivers and this will be the fifth year she participates, once again flying the Portuguese flag.

Sponsored by the Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA), the Algarve tourist board, the Algarve SPEDakar team has been testing the equipment and practicing in order to improve their chances of being able to cope with the harsh terrain.

The team is composed of local boys Ruben Faria, Nuno Mateus and Ricardo Pina and they will be racing on KTM motorbikes.

Ruben Faria, who is the only Portuguese racer to have already won a stage of the rally, in previous years, is positive about this year since their technical support is stronger.

The Lisbon-Dakar Rally will go through some of the toughest terrain and extreme weather conditions before racers cross the finish line.

Competitors will set off from Praça do Império in Belém and head south to Portimão, with the next stops in Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and through Senegal to reach Dakar on the coast.

Racers from the Algarve SPEDakar team have said that they believe the most nerve wracking legs of the rally will be when they must complete two stages without technical assistance.

Harsh conditions

This will be a test of experience and knowledge as they must complete a 589km stretch from Atar to Tichit and another 494km from Niamey in Niger to Timbuktu in Mali.

Throughout the race, especially in Africa, rest points will contain only basic supplies and the tough conditions do not stop there. On one of the legs, only one stop is allowed in Niamey, which is a stretch of over 2,500km.

A total of 525 teams will race on 250 motorcycles and quad bikes, 187 cars and 88 trucks. In all, 42 nationalities will be represented in the rally, which has been the most to date according to the organisers. Portugal will be represented by 40 drivers and co-drivers racing 15 cars, 11 motorbikes and two trucks.

The main locations along the rally route are Lisbon and Portimão, Malaga in Spain, Nador, Er Rachidia, Ouarzazate and Tan Tan in Morocco, Zouerat, Atar and Tichit in Mauritania, Niamey in Niger, Kayes and Timbuktu in Mali as well Tambacounda and Dakar in Senegal.

The Euromillions Lisbon-Dakar Rally 2007 takes place between January 6 and 21, with racers traveling a total distance of 8,696km.