Nissan Rally Raid Team Dakar 2003 | Part Three

The Final Tests…

A few weeks before the start of the 25th edition of the «Dakar », the Nissan Rally Raid Team has completed the final tests of its vehicles.

The three Pickups prepared by Nissan were tested in South Africa (from where they originate) and the other two, prepared by the Dessoude team, in the Bordeaux region of France.

On the South African side, the three line-ups (Ari Vatanen/Tina Thorner, Kenjiro Shinozuka/Thierry Delli Zotti and Giniel de Villiers/Pascal Maimon) met up in Johannesburg to finalise the set-ups and to evaluate the potential of their new Pickups.

This African episode started with a surprise, as during the presentation of the Nissan Rally Raid Team in South Africa, a very important guest came to wish them luck. Mr Nelson Mandela wished to encourage the team and greet all the team members in person, before the start of their great adventure … an emotional and symbolic moment, which saw their entry in the Dakar turn into a national event. An unforgettable moment for all those present.

The day after this memorable event, the whole team met up at the Geroteck test track, around 100km from Johannesburg. At around 1600m above sea level, this complex of dirt tracks, speed loops and crossings provides the best variety of test surfaces. Everyone was impatient to get going, but the most impatient of all was definitely Ari Vatanen… After a long absence, he was finally able to rediscover the sport which has always been the passion of his life.

This busy day allowed everyone to evaluate the challenge they were about to face, and to prepare for it as best they could.

continues... | Part Four
Published 21 December 2002 Melanie Carter

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