Contesting the Dakar Rally is within the reach of very few, especially due to the prohibitive prices, which range from €50,000 for the most modest motorcycles to €800,000 for top-class cars. There are many, however, those who are encouraged to participate in a demanding test like few others and scratch their pockets. To prepare, it is not easy to have enough time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle and the terrain, since they are additional budget items that very few have. One of the alternatives that are handled in the bivouac are video games, not at all a distraction if they are taken with the correct mentality.
“I didn’t get my driving license until July and I couldn’t start training with the car,” explains Pau Navarro (Llagostera, 18 years old), who makes his debut behind the wheel this year with an SSV T4 and is 9th in the category standings. . “Almost all my training has been with the simulator. With everything I have heard from the experiences of others, the simulator and what I have lived as a co-driver, I have tried to put it into practice as quickly as possible so as not to make mistakes in my first experience”. Obviously, he points out, he has proven himself in other rallies, and it is that the hours of driving are irreplaceable.
Another veteran, with 16 Dakars behind him, agrees with the opinion of the young rookie. “At the level of concentration it is very useful. There is a steering wheel, you have to put on the gas, you listen to the co-driver, it puts you in a racing situation”, says Gerard Farrés (Manresa, 43 years old), podium finisher in the motorcycle category in 2017 and fifth in the T4 classification. Although it is also a generational issue, the use of simulators is common among most competition pilots. It is also expensive and not everyone can afford it.
“I don’t use a simulator, but I have played the Dakar video game and at a navigation level, being active and listening to the co-driver, trying to follow the CAP [rumbo en terminología dakariana], it is difficult”, comments Cristina Gutiérrez, fifth in the general classification of light T3 prototypes. “It’s amazing, and even though I’m not very good at video games, I can say that it works to get you into career mode.” It is not a matter of mere piloting. Navarro, who made his debut in the 2021 edition as a co-driver, learned to sing the notes using the accompanying mode of the official Dakar video game of 2018. “In the time of the covid-19 I started playing the Dakar game and it was practically the same as you find yourself in real life”, he assures.
Tom Colsoul (Tienen, Belgium, 46 years old), winner of the Dakar in 2012 as a co-driver, prefers the traditional options, although he acknowledges that all methods are useful for inspiration. “You can learn from everything. Obviously you need real experience, but playing can give you ideas or it can help you to develop your style of giving notes a bit, ”he says. In addition to serving during preparation, video games can also be a good tool to disconnect from the race. When Fernando Alonso was part of the bivouac, after the endless stages, he also used the console as an evasion tool. He locked himself in his motorhome and began to play Grand Touringanother virtue that can be found in video games in the middle of the desert.
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