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The Assistance Teams: Dakar’s Warriors

  • They are Dakar’s untold story, and their role is key for the riders to be on the starting line day after day. Today we present the HIMOINSA Racing Team’s Assistance team, The true warriors of Dakar.

Salta (Argentina).  Their work is not featured on television, nor are they famous for their achievements in Dakar, but… who makes sure that the bikes work every day for two weeks of extreme racing? The assistance teams work 24 hours a day to make sure everything is ready.

The Assistance Team’s behind the scenes work is one of the fundamental pillars of Dakar. The HIMOINSA Team has top notch assistance, mechanics of the highest level prepared to assist riders on arrival at the camp in any circumstance. They are also complemented by a 6×6 assistance truck, a 4×4 motorhome truck, a motorhome and a press vehicle.

But… what is the daily routine of an Assistance team in Dakar?

A team crew’s work in Dakar never ends. Operative 24 hours a day, they endure the two weeks of racing like real titans. This is the daily routine at the HIMOINSA Racing Team:

04.00h: The alarm goes off. The mechanics come out of their tents. Some of them make use the roof of the assistance truck as an improvised bedroom, trying to have some privacy and get away from the noise of the generators and engines.

04.30h: The riders’ motorcycles start to be checked up to ensure that everything is OK and give the final touches. The crew proceeds to disasemble the campsite: tents, electricity, tables, tools …

05.00h: Depending on the stage, this is the approximate time of departure for the first rider. The five HIMOINSA riders have their departure time set from the previous day. As they leave, the assistance is dismantled.

06.00h: With everything packed up, the assistance leaves the bivouac on its way to the next camp. This route varies depending on the stages, but ranges from 6 to 12 hours of driving in this edition. The trucks are limited to 90km/h and the cars and motorhomes to 110km/h. During the refueling, breakfast is served, and the vehicles are loaded with water and diesel fuel. Normally, driving turns are carried out while the co-driver takes the opportunity to rest. On the road, the stage is followed via the internet, watching the passing of the riders through the different points of the day’s route.

14.00h: The HIMOINSA Team trucks and motorhome arrive at the next Bivouac. A commissaire tells them where to park for the day. The aim is to be near “The Central” where the briefing is held, and also close to the Michelin tent, to change the tires, 10 each day.

15.30h The assembly of the assistance facility is finished: open truck, 5 tents, 5 roofs, tools ready for work, spare parts outside the truck… all set! If there is any time before the arrival of the riders, the mechanics take the opportunity to eat in the Bivouac’s dining room.

16.00h: The first motorcycle arrives, crunch time! First things first: the KTMs are thoroughly washed. Next, the big task begins: oil, air filter, tires, brake pads, chain … Everything is checked so that the rider leaves the next day with the best odds. Some partss are sealed so that it is not possible to replace them without receiving a penalty, as is the case with the engine.

Little by little the other components of the HIMOINSA Team arrive and the assistance kicks in yet another gear to get over this huge workload.

If a motorcycle is damaged, the repair times are extended. In the truck, the team has all kinds of spare parts, and if any extra part is needed, the mechanics go to KTM, who supplies spare parts in each Bivouac.

9:00 pm: If everything went well, the first bike is ready, and the mechanic goes over a checklist to check that everything is in place.

9.30pm: Dinner time. The only moment of relaxation of the day.

10:00 pm: The dismantling of everything that is not essential for the morning begins, and it is packed in the truck.

23.00h: If there has not been any troublesome delay, it’s time to go to sleep. One more stage done… and one less stage remaining.

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