DAKAR RALLY

Former Mitsubishi manager Serieys is ready to bounce back with JMB Stradale

After Mitsubishi pulled out of the competition last February, team manager Dominique Serieys spent much of the past year battling to take part in the 2010 Dakar Rally. His efforts finally paid off, and he is now at the helm of the JMB Stradale team.

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Crisis or no crisis, you can always bet he will be there. Former Mitsubishi Motors team manager Dominique Serieys has arrived in Buenos Aires for the start of the 2010 Dakar Rally. But, for the seven-time winner (2001-2007), the last year has been “rather special”. Only a few months ago, the chances that he would spend New Year’s Eve in Argentina appeared very slim indeed.

His ordeal started one year ago, during the 2009 edition of the world-famous car and motorcycle race. The team was bidding for an eighth title, but was instead soundly beaten by archrivals Volkswagen. To add insult to injury, the only Mitsubishi Racing Lancer to even finish the race, the one driven by Spain's Nani Roma, ended a lowly 10th.

In February, Dominique Serieys was told that the Japanese motor giant would pull out of the competition.

“Personally, it was like a book was suddenly shut. I worked 17 years with them but the most difficult thing was to know that 41 people could be left without a job and all the experience would be left unused,” he told FRANCE 24.

Serieys met once more with the team board in a bid to save what he could. “I came up with some suggestions to save the team and they gave me a consulting role within the company for six months. So while I was still managing the team, I had to find new partners and a buyer,” he said, adding that he had learnt very much from the experience.

Target: a spot among the top 5

Finally, last October, a businessman and motor enthusiast from Marseille, Nicolas Misslin, bought the Mitsubishi Motors squad. The team was renamed JMB Stradale Off-Road. Serieys was back on track for the Dakar Rally as team manager.

Despite working on a budget cut by half, the man who won the 1993 Dakar as Bruno Saby’s co-pilot is aiming to “have at least three to four cars in the Top 10 and one among the Top 5".

"We did not invest in research and development, so the budget is tight but reasonable," Serieys explained, adding that the cars had been sold as new with only their engines reverted back form diesel to petrol, "which was cheaper to run".

JMB Stradale can also count on two key assets in their bid to compete with the Volkswagen and BMW teams: Argentina’s local hero Orlando Terranova and Portuguese champion Carlos Sousa will both be behind the wheels -- another good reason for Dominique Serieys to look forward to a race he thought he would be “watching on television while on holiday".

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