No way, José! Smart on the Dakar
HIGH HOPES: Yes, its a Mercedes Smart car, but on a special chassis. It's probably the smallest entrant on the Dakar - but its got a big heart.
London - José Luis Alvarez probably knows he'll be the butt of jokes when he takes his Smart through scrutineering for the 2013 Dakar rally in Lima, but perhaps his gamble is not as crazy as it looks...
The Dakar, a world of adventure, is also the perfect place for those who want to set themselves technical challenges. Throughout the history of the rally many a dare devil has tackled the dunes of Africa and South America in a vehicle which would have felt more at home in a city.
JUST ANOTHER DREAMER?
A few wacky attempts in a Renault 5 and Citroën AX in the 1980's, as well as several 2CV Citroens and a Fiat Panda in the 2000's, all came to nothing!
Upon seeing him with his Smart on the start line in Lima, one could be forgiven for thinking Alvarez is yet another dreamer, but the former quad pilot is not really planning to cross the Atacama Desert in the exact same city car which has taken the European capitals by storm.
"I built this buggy by fitting the body of a Smart prototype on an XP 900 Polaris." Alvarez already showed his trail-blazing mettle when he became the first Spanish quad rider to finish the Dakar several years ago.
He could very well be a pioneer again in this his ninth Dakar start!
Other Stories in Dakar...
The 9500km haul through Argentina and Chile was the longest, highest and toughest Dakar yet. Among the survivors were Toyota South Africa's Giniel de Villiers, Dirk von Zitzewitz, Leeroy Poulter, Rob Howie and privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr.
Giniel de Villiers was not the only South African to make waves at the 2014 Dakar, truck driver Albert Geel was co-driver in the fastest truck running in the grueling rally.