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Paris ? Dakar ? Cairo Rally 2000: Richard Sainct repeats previous year's victory

31 January, 2000

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Four-fold triumph for the BMW Gauloises Motorcycle Team.

The scenery was stunning: the mighty 6000 year old gold-shimmering pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo loomed into the deep blue night sky and the sphinx, shining majestically in the silver spotlights, viewed the happenings at her feet with a mystical smile - the presentation ceremony of the Paris-Dakar-Cairo 2000 Rally which, for the first time and on the occasion of the new millennium, took the participants from Dakar to the Egyptian capital.

With places one through four overall, the BMW Gauloises Motorcycle Team not only celebrated its sixth victory before this breathtaking setting, but also an unprecedented triumph in the 22-year history of the world's toughest rally.

Previous year's winner Richard Sainct from France won the desert race once again, the Spaniard Oscar Gallardo (also on an F 650 RR) was second, Jimmy Lewis from the US (on an R 900 RR) third and the Frenchman Jean Brucy (F 650 RR) fourth.

It was no wonder that virtually everyone in the BMW Gauloises Motorcycle Team was beaming and rejoicing. "The year 2000 could not have begun any better for us, this great success is exactly the right opener for the coming market launch of our new F 650 GS this spring", said a happy BMW Motorcycles Director Marco v. Maltzan who was the first to congratulate the victorious BMW quartet at the finish near the pyramids.

"First, second and fourth place for our F 650 single cylinders prove that the F 650's victory last year was no coincidence. The flat-twin Boxer", continues v. Maltzan, "made an impressive comeback in third place."

His praise was not only directed at the motorbikes, but also the riders and the 31-member BMW Team, including the tireless mechanics who often worked on the bikes through the night. "And the way the riders helped each other during the race", says v. Maltzan, "shows the true sportsman's spirit present in our team."

He also comforted the two unlucky members of the BMW Team, one of whom was the Englishman John Deacon who fell so badly with his R 900 RR on the fifth leg, that he had to be flown home. But the indestructible fun-loving BMW rider flew to Cairo after five days in hospital to be there when his team-mates rode in.

Andrea Mayer who nevertheless rode strongly was also disappointed with her result. She remarked with some pride, however:, "that I can even overtake the top riders". With her 8th place in the 13th leg the fastest female rally rider in the world was the first woman in the history of the Dakar Rally to come in amongst the top ten. But due to the fact that she stayed with her team-mate John Deacon after his fall on the fifth day and a fall of her own three days before Cairo which caused some engine trouble, the valiant Andrea Mayer from Kaufbeuren only finished in 53 place and did not win the ladies' category this time.

Otherwise the mood in the BMW camp was euphoric. "I am overjoyed", rejoiced Berti Hauser, BMW Motorcycle Sports Chief since May 1999, "I was hoping for another victory, but this result goes beyond our wildest dreams."

For a long time, however, it did not necessarily look as if BMW was going to win. Last year's winner Richard Sainct won the first leg but already on the second day the Spanish KTM rider Joan Roma took the lead and widened it to more than 22 minutes by the sixth leg. In the BMW camp this development was taken calmly at first. This attitude, however, changed after the rally caravan was stopped on the 11th of January following rumours of possible terrorist attacks and subsequently flown out in a giant airlift operation from Niamey in Niger to Libya where the rally was continued with the 11th leg. Now it was clear to everyone that it would be very difficult to catch up with the leading Roma.

On the 14th leg from Khofra to Dakhla the rally was prematurely decided. Roma had been clinging to his pursuer Sainct like a leech and was not to be shaken off. On the morning of the 14th leg, BMW Motorcycle Sport Chief Berti Hauser told the riders to go "full throttle". On the 879 kilometre-long leg leading into Egypt, Lewis, Gallardo and Sainct chased through the so-called "Great sea of sand" at speeds of 160 kilometres per hour closely followed by Roma. And one rider did fall by the wayside on this wild chase: as the last of five KTM factory riders who had originally started in Dakar, the leader Roma dropped out of the run for victory with an engine failure.

This meant that the way was clear for the BMW quartet which wouldn't be done out of their triumph. With flying colours fixed to their handlebars and in close formation, Sainct, Gallardo, Lewis and Brucy rode into the finish at the pyramids at 12 noon on the 23rd of January. "If Roma hadn't dropped out, I probably would not have caught up with him anymore", admitted the beaming Richard Sainct whom his team-mates christened "King Richard the Second" after his renewed victory.

But this four-fold triumph is not without reason. "Due to the fact that in a long-distance race like the Dakar Rally it is not only the engine's top performance that counts but also its durability", explains BMW Motorcycle Development Chief Dr Markus Braunsperger in Cairo, "we consistently supported the development of the motorbikes at our two competent partners - the single cylinders at Richard Schalber's and the flat-twins at the company HPN - with a main focus on this durability factor." Team captain Richard Schalber confirms this: "on the one hand it shows that last year's victory was not only a fluke and on the other hand it paid off that we made the bikes even more durable."

The riders also praised the machines: "the bike is really perfect", said Oscar Gallardo about the 75 horsepower F 650 RR single-cylinder and Jimmy Lewis enthused about his 90 horsepower flat-twin Boxer: "it really has the potential of a winner's bike." The cool Californian, however, had to battle with a problem. The sponge rubber in the tyres used instead of a tube to avoid time-consuming flat-tyre repairs wasn't up to the power delivery of the beefy Boxer engine and repeatedly just melted away in the generated heat. That's why Lewis was not able to make full use of his motorbike's power. Otherwise he was completely happy: "It's a great feeling to have the fastest bike and to be sitting on a motorcycle legend like the flat-twin Boxer and to ride in a team which is so professional and where everyone helps each other."

Jean Brucy once again worked selflessly for the good of the team. In the end the likeable Frenchman celebrated his fourth place almost as if he had won the race.

Final ranking of the 22. Paris / Dakar/ Cairo Rally 2000 / Motorcycles:

1. Richard Sainct (France) BMW F 650 RR Total time 49:08:56 hours

2. Oscar Gallardo (Spain) BMW F 650 RR Gap 31:54

3. Jimmy Lewis (USA) BMW R 900 RR 52:29

4. Jean Brucy (France) BMW F 650 RR 2:06:25

5. J?rgen Mayer (Germany) KTM 3:10:28

53. Andrea Mayer (Germany) BMW F 650 RR 17:00:51

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