BFGoodrich®’s Dakar heroes
Jérôme is taking over the role as BFGoodrich®’s on-event technician from Dominique who is retiring with 12 Dakars under his belt and four decades in motorsport. In 2005, Dominique himself followed in the footsteps of Michel who was the very first BFGoodrich® technician to work on the event, and who knew the Ténéré Desert like the inside of his pocket.
Jérôme, 42, has previously worked as a tire technician in Formula 1 (with Red Bull) and totals three Le Mans victories in the same job with Porsche. “I’ve always been fascinated by the Dakar,” he admits. “At last, I’m going to find out more about this legendary event and about cross-country rallying in general. It’s unfamiliar territory for me but it’s the sort of adventure I am drawn by. I can’t wait to work with BFGoodrich®’s partner teams and drivers, like Peterhansel, Al-Attiyah and Roma. They are all class acts. I also obviously followed the development of the new BFGoodrich® All Terrain KDR2+ tires very closely and spent some time working with their designer, Matt, who is joining me for the first week of the rally.”
Of BFGoodrich®’s 11 fitters on the event, only two are newcomers and the vast majority are back for a second shift. “The 2017 Dakar was pretty hard going at times, like when the bivouac was flooded in Ururo [Bolivia], not to mention the scorching weather we had in Argentina,” recalls the team’s coordinator Sébastien. “But when it came to signing up for 2018, practically all the guys jumped at the chance.”
This year’s squad includes 21-year old Lucas, the youngest of the bunch, while the most experienced member is Jean-Luc – one of the two BFGoodrich® truck drivers – who has chalked up no fewer than 32 Dakars to date. “It might prove easier for us than last year, at least during the first week because the bivouac won’t move much to begin with.”
“We form a good team,” concludes Sébastien. “This will be our second Dakar together, so I don’t think it will take us long to find our marks. We will need to make sure the two new faces – Yoan and Jonathan – fit in, but I have no concerns about that. We work together the rest of the year in endurance racing and MotoGP.”
The 11-strong team will be ready for work at the BFGoodrich® Dakar Service Center from 3pm until midnight every day – sometimes longer – to fit, remove and repair tires of all types and sizes (for car, bike and quad bike competitors, etc.), as well as to provide the occasional tip. Their discreet advice can be vital for drivers and riders who prefer to focus solely on their driving/riding…