HIMOINSA Team antes de salir

Last step towards the Dakar

HIMOINSA Team sign up to Dakar 2015

The expedition led by Miguel Puertas (58), Rosa Romero (96) and Antonio Gimeno (97) says good-bye to Spain and starts the countdown to the starting line in Buenos Aires.

On 11 November the Spanish multinational HIMOINSA presented its ambitious project to include a team from Murcia three bikers strong in Dakar. Little more than one and a half months later, it is now only hours until the three bikers – Granada-born Miguel Puertas (58), Catalan-born Rosa Romero (96) and Madrid-born Antonio Gimeno (97) take on Dakar – the toughest rally in the world.

Yesterday around half past midnight the Spanish team left Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport for Buenos Aires, which was chosen by the Dakar organisation as the start and finish line for the 37th Dakar race. They are due to touch down on South American soil around 1 p.m. Spanish time (9 a.m. in Buenos Aires). On the first day, the second leader, mechanics and team will collect the vehicles, the three motorbikes and the truck from customs at the Euroamerica terminal. The vehicles will have arrived from Le Havre, France. Once they have all of the equipment, it is moved to the huge Tecnópolis exhibition centre where it is stored before undergoing administrative and technical checks on the afternoon of 2 January 2015. “NYE is still a special day so you celebrate it but in reality your mind is focused on the race and you go to bed early. These are the days leading up to the event and there is a lot of work to be done – collecting the equipment you sent over and deciding what you will take with you during the race and what you will leave behind, checking the bike, tests, etc. Until the time comes to get on the bike and compete it is almost impossible to relax. This year, Dakar will have particular relevance as one of my good friends is battling a serious illness. I would like to dedicate this race and each kilometre covered during Dakar to her and her battle against this illness. Comments by biker Rosa Romero before the flight.

But this year is also a special one for Miguel Puertas. One, because he has been given the new role of Sports Director which now exists in the team; and second, because he is on the verge of making history because if he makes it to the end of this Dakar it will be his 10th in a row. I don’t feel under pressure to make it my 10th. I am happy with what I have already achieved. If I have learned anything from Dakar, it’s that you cannot race under pressure because at the end of the day, the race is extremely long and you cannot cope with that pressure for all those days. You need to relax and enjoy the race. To me it’s a prize – not a challenge that must be completed. Being here after 10 years is the icing on the cake in this journey.” Statement from the project’s alma mater and the biker backed by HIMOINSA during each of his Dakar events. In terms of the race itself Puertas has completed all of the South American events, where the ASO have gradually made the race tougher over the years. That said, Miguel seems to know exactly where to mark the map in red.  In the first week the stretch between San Juan and Chilecito before the Andes crossing is going to be very difficult. The two marathon stages in the second week mean it is going to be a very long week. The five-day climb and descent of Uyuni is going to be a very hard load to bear. The rest will be relatively easy even if it is really long.

After the checks, the bikers will spend 3 January meeting thousands of fans due to line the streets surrounding the Government House (la Casa Rosada) and to fill the Plaza de Mayo.  The Dakar competitors will be introduced in order of category from highest to lowest entry number on the starting podium. They hope to be back here by 17 January, which will earn them the finisher medal or qualify them in one of the categories of the toughest race on earth.   “It’s a really special moment. I have only been lucky enough to take part in Dakar once but I was able to finish the race and experience these two unique feelings – the feeling when they wave you off and the feeling when they welcome you back as a victorious hero. This year I am really focused on all three of us completing the race. I don’t know what could happen next year but I want to see each of my team mates by my side on 17 January so that I can see the Rosa’s excited face when she finishes her first ever Dakar race and Miguel’s face when he completes his 10th Dakar.  For me, the biggest triumph will be seeing their faces.  Antonio thinks that the KTM EXC 450 motorbike is perfectly matched to enabling the three of us to arrive at the finishing podium because “it is very light which will mean that we will have a greater advantage when we face the more technical stages. It’s one thing to take on Dakar with the aim of finishing it and it’s another to actually complete it. Since our objective is the latter our technical equipment could not be better.

After the start date, the bikers will go and rest before the two weeks of competition, including two marathon stages and a rest day and the thousands of stories that will be written during each kilometre. We hope that this year all three of them can make it to the end with that same non-stop energy they are famous for.

Antonio y Rosa aeropuerto

Antonio y Rosa at the airport.