Chicherit's Dakar second-coming
BACK AT IT: After being axed by the X-raid team in 2011, Guerlain Chicherit is zipping-up his overalls again for the SMG team in the 2013 edition of the Dakar Rally.
Guerlain Chicherit lost his place in the X-Raid team after an accident during the Dakar 2011 rest day then spent a year in the racing wilderness. Now a proposition from Philippe Gache could breathe new life into the career of the former extreme skiing World champion in the Dakar.
Near Arica, in Chile, the brand-new Mini entrusted in January 2011 to Guerlain Chicherit required several adjustments and tests, an episode which finished with the driver withdrawing from the rally in the middle of the rest day. The sanction from the X-Raid team was immediate and accepted by the Man from the Mountains.
“When you do something stupid, you have to bear the consequences. I can totally understand that they didn't want me on board any longer,” remembers Chicherit, without a hint of bitterness despite the very difficult period of his career. “When you're in a downward spiral, everything seems to turn out for the worst, but in the end, I battled my way back because I didn't want to sink without a trace - I still think I'm a good driver."
SPONSOR FAITH AND SUPPORT
Not only did sponsors continue to support him (Chicherit is still an ambassador for Mini and has set up business in producing thrill-seeking videos) but Philippe Gache also believed in him and contacted the “forgotten man” when choosing his leading driver for the 2013 Dakar back again in South America.
“I must admit I underestimated the SMG after driving for X-Raid but when I went to carry out the first tests on the buggy in Morocco, I couldn't believe it,” Guerlain said, won over by the machine whose wheel he was behind. “It's a genuine off-roader which goes very fast on bumpy terrains. I'm already sure it's perfectly suited to my driving and that we will be able to put on a real show."
Obviously, powerful images and thrills will be on the menu. However, for the driver who finished fifth in the general standings on the 2010 Dakar, the idea of crossing swords with the Toyotas and even the Minis is never far off:
“It's very tough to say how it will turn out - we don't really have any competitive benchmarks so I don't know exactly how the Mini has developed. I think we'll be able to do ourselves justice. In any case, we'll make sure there are fireworks!”