Gianpaolo Bedin is taking on an ambitious project, with a buggy (ABOVE) that he designed by himself which he will drive in January's Dakar Rally with Mauro Lipez, a man who he has not even met yet. The two men came into contact thanks to the event website's forum.
As far as leaps into the unknown are concerned, Bedin is taking things to the extreme. He will be participating in his first Dakar, like many others, but is adding even more doses of uncertainty to the makeup of his project. The Italian, a former engineer for the Minardi and Osella Formula 1 teams, has designed a buggy by himself – a labor of love on which he has worked for almost 10 years.
“It's a crazy idea to build your own car to take part in the Dakar," he concedes. "The first step was to make sure it will be able to receive approval during the scrutineering. In principle, it should do. Afterward, I went to Tunisia to do some testing and I've got the feeling that it's a good car. Now, I just hope it will get to the finish line, regardless of the position!”
To succeed in this challenge, Gianpaolo has raised the stakes even further by counting on a co-pilot that he has not even met yet. Argentinean Mauro Lipez, the man who will be finding himself in the passenger seat of the Raitec Buggy, explains the steps which led to him being recruited as co-pilot:
“This time, Hernan Roberti, my usual driver for the last two editions, is not able to take part. So, I simply posted a message on the dakar.com website's forum to offer my services. Two months later, I received an e-mail from Gianpaolo Bedin. He was looking for a navigator who was at ease in the countries which the Dakar will visit. I'm pretty sure of my capacities, because last year I didn't make a single mistake – not even a deviation of 50 meters! As a result, we'll be driving for the first time together on the first stage. It's a bit like a fairy tale!”
The Dakar Rally begins in Lima, Peru on Jan. 5 and concludes in Santiago de Chile 15 days later. This year's course will wind some 5,300 miles through Peru, Argentina and Chile.