Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Guillaume de Mevius: Dakar 2024 will be “difficult, but nice”

Guillaume de Mévius is looking forward to running the Dakar Rally for the third time in 2024. Speaking with Cross-Country Rally News during the Rally Greece Offroad, he expects the race to be a challenge but still one to enjoy.

Despite staying in Saudi Arabia for the fifth year in a row, sixty percent of the 2024 Rally’s routes are new. The biggest pitch for the race is the 48-hour Chrono Stage, which replaces the Empty Quarter Marathon with a two-day, 600-kilometre run; at the end of the first day at 4 PM, all teams are to stop at one of eight base camps before resuming the next morning.

“I like what the (Amaury Sport) Organisation presented to us,” began de Mévius. “For sure, it will be, I think, a hard year next year. I don’t have a lot of experience, I only have two Dakars in my hands, but what I heard after the discussion with everybody, I think it would be a nice one—difficult, but nice. I like that.

“The new 48-hour stage, I think it’s a very good idea. I don’t know exactly how it will work and with the strategy, we will see when we’ll be there, but I think it’s a good idea.”

De Mévius made his Dakar début in 2022 with Red Bull Factory Racing, winning a stage but retiring after five stages. Since then, he has been heavily involved with the OT3 project, which is built by fellow Belgian outfit Overdrive for T3 competition.

While still affiliated with Red Bull, he became an owner/driver for 2023 as he raced his OT3 under the GRallyTeam banner. He had an impressive showing as he led the T3 outright for much of the Dakar Rally and won Stage #6, but mechanical trouble on the eleventh leg allowed the Red Bulls to leapfrog him. De Mévius finished third overall as the lone driver not racing for Red Bull’s factory programmes in the top five.

When not racing, he oversees GRallyTeam who fields an OT3 in the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for brother Ghislan de Mévius. Ghislain is currently second in the overall championship and leads the T3 points.

He was also receptive to the ASO moving the starting port from Marseille to Barcelona. The Spanish city last hosted the Dakar Rally in 1989 and 2005.

“The start in Barcelona with all the people that we can come, if it’s happening like this, I think it would be a very nice thing for everybody who wants to watch the start of the Dakar,” he commented. “I think it will be good.”

Other changes for 2024 include the introduction of Mission 1000, a means to help promote alternative fuel vehicles. At each stage, such cars will participate on a 100-km route separate from the main Rally to test their capabilities.

“The new Mission 1000 for me is good that the ASO organisation try to push more for the future, to create a new category, to be able to show some new stuff,” he continued. “I think it will be good for the sport to be able to show stuff, because to do directly all the Dakar, all the stages are quite difficult for new projects. With this new category, I think it will bring a good opportunity to show new projects too.

“My team is not planning to do a new project, but I think for motorsport and for the discipline, for the rally raids, it’s good to show that we want to improve, we want to go further. As a driver and a team manager, I think it’s good too. We don’t have yet the plan for us, but maybe it will come. About the start and the finish, I think we all stay in the same country that we already know already. I hope in the next year we can maybe do different countries. It would be nice. Saudi Arabia is a very nice place. To start from the same area and finish in the same area, for me, it’s good, to be honest. I don’t have enough experience in Dakar to say if it’s good or bad. I liked the Sea Camp start, that I think was good. Last year was really nice to be able to be all together before the start, so I think it’s a good idea. I’m looking forward to being there.”

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.