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Week two images from the 2019 Rally Dakar
NEWS

Roma returns: Dakar 2019 podium success for Nani

Jan 182019

Despite being a 20 year veteran of the world’s toughest off road race; when Nani Roma dropped the clutch and roared off the start line of the 2019 Dakar Rally, it was a tense moment.

Not just because 10 days and 3,100 miles of the most unforgiving terrain lay ahead of him. But also because 12 months earlier - at the 2018 edition of the infamous off road race - Nani’s charge ended abruptly on day three with a high speed crash, and resulting head and neck injuries.

The 46 year old Spanish racer remained steely-eyed all the same though, and after an intense battle of attrition against the clock and the elements of Peru’s dune-filled coast line, he and co-driver Alex Haro crossed the finish-line in second place.

Just 46 minutes behind overall winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, Nani’s consistent and unrelenting pace during the 41st edition of the Dakar left all his other rivals in the dust - including nine time WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb, Dakar Legend Jakub Prezygonski, former five time Dakar winner Cyril Despres and 2009 Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers.

Lifting the coveted Dakar trophy on the podium in a hazy Lima late in the evening on the 17th January was certainly a special moment. It didn’t just mark his first major Dakar podium since 2014, but also a year of hard work, and a fantastic return to form from injury. Read on to find out, exclusively from Nani, exactly how it all went down…

"My co-driver Alex did a very good job too. He had a small fracture in his hand for the last five days, but kept pushing despite the pain! Both of us are very happy with the result. It’s a fantastic success after so much hard work!”

Congratulations: you are back on the Dakar podium! Talk us through your emotions…

Nani Roma: “I feel so good - although a little bit tired now! When you finally finish the race and everything slows down, your adrenaline levels drop and you can really soak in what has happened. After all the debriefs and the official finish of a long rally I always look forward to heading back to the hotel and just being a little bit quiet for a short time before celebrating.”

How does it feel to bounce back from injury in this style?

“You work for months and months to prepare for the Dakar, and the focus levels are so high. When I had the accident on the third day of the Dakar last year and had to stop, it was incredibly tough for me. Especially when you know straight away that you have to wait a full year before you can try again. This year I just tried to drive as consistently as possible and not make any mistakes. I did make a couple [of mistakes] along the way but that is part of the game. Overall I am really happy! My co-driver and I have a good team around us - all the engineers and support staff - so everything worked very very well. My co-driver Alex did a very good job too. He had a small fracture in his hand for the last five days, but kept pushing despite the pain! Both of us are very happy with the result. It’s a fantastic success after so much hard work!”

"The Dakar is always a super hard rally - and this year has been tough… really tough...."

What updates did you bring with your Mini this year?

“Quite a few. This was the latest version of the Mini from X-Raid. We ran a different engine; which replaced the old twin-turbo diesel which was used in 2018. This time we had a six-cylinder single-turbo instead. There were lots of updates including a new exhaust system, intakes, and a air-cooled intercooler system. The balance and weight of the car was also different. It’s the same car I raced in the Baja Portalegre a few months ago - so I was familiar with the new set up ahead of the Dakar. It was strong and a very good package.”

How was the new “100% Peru” route?

“The Dakar is always a super hard rally - and this year has been tough… really tough. There’s been a lot of stress every day this year though. A lot of sand, a lot of dunes. It was only 10 days this year, but it actually feels like 20 days! For the entire rally you have the sea quite close to the dunes, and that created a lot of turbulence, and very tricky sand that kept changing. We knew that going into the rally though. But for me after 24 Dakars this was definitely one of the most tough events!”

What do you need to do to beat Nasser (Al-Attiyah)?

“Nasser drove a very clean and really strong race. At the moment I don’t have a lot more to say other than to wish him congratulations on the win. We have some good ideas for the plan for next year. Not being so aggressive on some of the stages, and the weight levels in the car will be key for success I think. I don’t want to give too much away. It is difficult to beat Nasser though - he did a great job, and the Toyotas are very fast. But we have a plan to come back next year!”

Where do you go from here?

“The minute you finish one Dakar, the preparation begins for the next. Of course the entire team and I need to get some rest now; but already I am thinking about next year. It’s always nice to imagine the next race - and that keeps me excited as a driver. I think we really kicked some ass this year against some strong rivals; and I’m super proud of the result.”

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