The drivers agree that, so far, the 40th-edition Dakar has delivered all the ingredients that have helped to forge the event’s unique reputation. But with six days of difficult, unpredictable competition behind them, the survivors are relieved to have reached the rest day in La Paz.
However, they don’t just see the stay in Bolivia’s capital as a break. “It’s an opportunity release some of the pressure, do some washing, tidy up, clean all the gear and think about how we can improve for the second week,” notes Eugénie Debré, co-driver in the Swiss Snow-backed N°330 car. “The rest day allows us to step back, analyse our performance and evaluate the risks ahead.”
“It’s good for morale to be able to put on clean clothes,” adds her driver Jérôme Pélichet as he hangs his washing. “And there’s also our traditional pre-lunch team drink!”
The TV broadcasters face a busy programme of press conferences, interviews and chance meetings as they take advantage of everybody’s relative availability, while the teams use the day to prepare for the weekend’s marathon leg. The mechanicals are refettled and cleaned, and tool bags are packed in readiness for any work that might be necessary on Saturday evening when the mechanics won’t have access to the cars. “Preparing for the marathon takes a whole day,” says Team Toyota Overdrive boss Jean-Marc Fortin.