This is how Andalusia saved the Dakar

David Castera, director of both tests, explains in AS how difficult it was to find a substitute for Morocco and how "happy" he is with his result.


"I'm happy to have done the rally, it wasn't that easy." That is the first thing that David Castera, the director of the Dakar and also the Andalusian Rally, makes clear, once it has concluded smoothly in conversation with AS. Because "it was not certain that it could be celebrated": "We have spent three weeks with a lot of stress. The coronavirus is growing again, we have only had two months to set everything up ... It was a bit complicated, but it was important for the discipline to do one career ".

And it is that, with Andalusia, the road to the Dakar has been saved. That simple Racing in Morocco, a key test in the preparation of the Dakar, was not possible this year and there was very little reaction time to find a replacement at that time. "At the beginning of August we saw that there were not many options to race there. Something had to be done and we found an agreement to mount this race", says the Frenchman with relief because he knew that "since the Dakar nothing had been done and had to be done a test to prove everything ".

It is true that Andalusia hardly resembles Morocco, in fact, Castera says that "it has not been an alternative, but a different event", but it has fulfilled the objective of "allowing all the discipline to leave the garage" and not reach January practically blind. And that is precisely why his results should not be taken into account: "The fact that Al Attiyah has won does not mean that he will be the strongest in the Dakar, because here it has been different and Sainz's buggy is not so well adapted to these narrow roads ".

However, being so different from Morocco, Andalusia can have a future in raids and is here to stay. "Andalusia will never replace Morocco, it is another very different rally, we are not in the desert, there are no dunes, there is not the same navigation ... but if we find a date, it may be that next year it will enter the world championship, something that would be good because there are not many tests of this level in Europe and it would be a success, "says the French leader.

Progress of the next Dakar

In addition to recovering sensations and fine-tuning the mechanics, Andalusia served to test novelties that will be implemented in the Dakar, such as the airbag for motorcycle riders or the electronic roadbook, and also as a test of the measures to be taken take in Arabia so that the coronavirus does not intrude. "You had to make sure that nobody entered without a negative PCR. Then, we closed everything, you could only go to the hotel and return," says Castera about a bubble that worked perfectly in Villamartín and that "will be the same in the Dakar."

Now, David is in Arabia to finalize the validation of the Dakar route (presented on November 25). "For a month there has been a team that has been doing the route, then I pass for the last validation and two days later, the team that draws the roadbook. We have six cars throughout Arabia," he explains, and is convinced that it will be a good Dakar: "There is a correct registration, it is true that with less participation, but I think nothing will change. We will have the best and we have tried to correct what did not work" .

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