All of Australia racing

25 December 2008 | 0:00 - By Christophe Barriere-Varju

Christophe Barriere-Varju, riding for Team Rally Australia, has arrived in Buenos Aires ahead of the 2009 Dakar Rally. Here, Christophe explains just how difficult it is for privateers to prepare for Dakar in foreign surroundings.


I am writing this on Christmas Eve, so first of all Merry Christmas, enjoy the family gathering, and best wishes and health for 2009!

The pre-race is always something exciting, not only do you need to tame pre-race emotions, but you also need to get all the bits that are still missing - sleeping bag, tent, markers for the road book, tape, so on and so forth.

I usually fly only two to three days before the event but this year, with the race being in South America, it is all a bit of an unknown.

The motorcycle had to be ready and shipped mid-October to arrive on the 20th of December, this was already a little strange.

When you land in a foreign country everything is new - the place, the people, the language, the way to move around, and the traffic. I suppose I am lucky because I have traveled quite a bit in my life. Still, you need to adapt quickly and make things happen.

The first stop was the apartment in central Buenos Aires, then a taxi to travel nearly an hour where the bike is temporarily located until the Parc Fermé opens on the 27th of December.

Did you know that if more than 10 cars are waiting at the toll in Buenos Aires they are supposed to open the gates and let everyone go through? (Sydney Harbour Bridge, are you listening?) The whole place sounded like a New Year's celebration where everyone was sitting on their horn to get the tollgates open!

Then the real fun began, from simple things like finding a mobile phone SIM card, the best plans, the best coverage, the access to internet in all the small towns and villages we are going to cross so that I can send you messages, from the shops to calling the help centre because the people in the shops had no idea, everything is new, the streets, the shopping hours, the food, the conversations with the taxi drivers, the shop to print those last minute stickers and shirts – not always to perfection. And all in Spanish por favor!

In the next few days I will need to find a pick up truck to go to a track outside the city to test the bike, and then away to carry all the parts to the Parc Fermé. But as usual there is always someone that knows someone that may know someone, and it all works out in the end.

For 2009, our goal (SBS and Team Rally Australia) is to give you a behind the scenes view, like the above, of all the things we experience as a privateer racing in the Dakar. We have no team manager, no communication specialist, no therapist, psychologist, or people to organise all these little things that take a huge amount of time. We just arrive into a country and figure it out.

At Dakar 2009, my goal is to make you feel part of the race back at home, with my blogs. Just try to imagine what it would be like to be on the ground, to feel the crisp and oxygen deprived air of the Andes, the dry heat of the Atacama desert, and listening to the people cheering for you without understanding a word of what is being said.

I have raced the Dakar before and I know how it feels. I know what these experiences have brought into my life, now I want to share these with all the viewers.

The race is just the vehicle we use, whether you ride a motorcycle, car or truck is not that important, but the voyage of self-discovery is.

Join me in the 2009 Dakar Rally, and let's race the 9,500kms together!

CBV #205

:: See Christophe's welcome message from Buenos Aires here

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Comments (9)

05 Jan 2009 4:04 AEST


From: Villers Buzon FRANCE


Belle première étape...BRAVO et courage pour la prochaine...

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05 Jan 2009 3:54 AEST


From: Villers Buzon


Belle première étape...BRAVO et courage pour la prochaine...

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04 Jan 2009 9:26 AEST

Max Sullivan

From: Sydney

Dakar 2009 Reply to Mike

Hi Mike, I am not in Argentina. Instead I am sitting at home, taking the holidays I had organised to attend the Dakar. 2007 Dakar was tough, spannering for three riders when mechanics usually only look after 1 or 2. I was pleased to get all my three riders across the line in Dakar. This year was disappointing to find out at the last minute I was replaced in the team. Good luck to all the Aussies in the rally.

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03 Jan 2009 2:41 AEST

CBV #205

From: Corlette

Admin & Technical Verifications...Done!

Thank you everyone! Yesterday we completed our administrative & technical verifications. The bike is now sitting in the Parc Ferme until later on this afternoon when we do a little loop in Buenos Aires for the public. This morning's briefing was excellent and the race is going to get harder when we enter week two. But to kick things off tomorrow at 5am will be a fast special with speed averaging 140km/h - at least for the cars. Final entry numbers: 227 Bikes, 25 Quads, 177 Cars, 81 Trucks.

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02 Jan 2009 22:45 AEST

Kelvin Ward

From: Mount Isa

South American holiday...NOT!!!!

As we know , Ewen and Charley found out its harder than it look. On TV it doesn't really give you that draining sensation you get from a all day ride , so it will be good to read your blog on what its like . Good luck Chris its one hell of a way to see South America so safe racing and have a good Dakar adventure Regards Kel

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31 Dec 2008 18:47 AEST


From: Sydney

Flying Solo

I wish I was there to help you with all the little celebrating NYE in Buenos Aries. May the Gods keep you safe and make your Dakar dreams come true in 2009. Happy New Year and I look forward to hearing all about your adventures in 2009. Safe speeding. Zoe

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29 Dec 2008 16:58 AEST


From: Melbourne

Go Aussies

Hello Christophe, Good luck to you, Dave Schwartz (the other Aussie riding a bike) also Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki driving their Australian Safari Isuzu DMax. Lets hope the newspapers and other TV outlets get behind our Aussie contingent. Its no secret we all get sick of cricket and footy in the media, lets see some real guts and determination for a change. Ryan

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28 Dec 2008 14:03 AEST


From: Sydney

I hope you enjoy your adventure across Argentina & Chile and stay safe!

Hi Christophe, I hope you enjoy your adventure across Argentina & Chile and stay safe! Maybe you can tell us who is supporting you for this Dakar? ie is Max there again? I look forward to following your adventure via this website and blog. I wish I was there helping you. Take care. Regards Mike.

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27 Dec 2008 18:54 AEST


From: Flynn

Good luck Christophe!

Hey Christophe, Good luck mate, and have fun. Hope we meet up again one day so that I can give you your torch back! Pete

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About this Blog

Christophe Barriere-Varju is riding for Team Rally Australia in Dakar 2010. Follow Christophe's story and feel the emotion and inspiration through his blogs for SBS during his South American adventure.

Christophe Barriere-Varju Christophe Barriere-Varju is one of the world's leading off-road motorcycle racers.
He competed in the 2006 and 2007 Dakar Rallies, and is set to take the challenge once again in 2010. Christophe also runs a charity foundation called Dreams Do Come True, which helps others - especially disadvantaged children, achieve their goals. Born in France, raised in West Africa, and completing his education in California, Christophe now resides Down Under and is a rider for Team Rally Australia.