01/21/2020 05:00 – Updated: 01/21/2020 08:18
Like an olive bone in the throat, the Dakar had passed through Jesus Calleja. Three editions, three dropouts. “I am very stubborn, and when I program something in my life I want to finish it. It was a pending account that yes or yes had to end. ” And finally, the Leonese finished a Dakar, a great challenge that were big words for those who are used to them. “It is the most difficult, most dangerous and toughest race in the world. He had to do it. For me it was perhaps more difficult because I was not a pilot. I knew that was the challenge, and to achieve it I had to become a pilot. I stay with that I have fulfilled the objective, and that has been of the hardest of my life ".
But Jesus Calleja has also taken a special bonus on this Dakar, “the one to see Carlos (Sainz), Fernando (Alonso). Who was going to tell me that one day I was going to compete with Alonso on the same team. I have lived something historical, being close to Carlos and Fernando, something very difficult to repeat. Above, Carlos who wins … Having been part of this story, having been able to share it, I think it's magnificent. And then, run in an extraordinary landscape, an incredible desert. ” With you, the ‘enjoy life’ Jesús Calleja and his experience in the Dakar.RELATED
With an anchor in the desert
The Dakar square finally has the cross. A conquest that resisted as one who does not succumb to the display of the entire repertoire of seduction. It is confirmed by talking with Calleja himself, four years no less. Satisfied by the twenty-ninth final in the standings, but not quite. “We lost three hours with the hydraulic jacks, six traffic penalties that did not touch, a 'way point' that we ate and we dropped more penalty … In total it was four hours, that if we discounted them, we would have entered the twenty position . As I have done four dakares, it was no longer worth me just to finish, but to do it well, because having previous experience you want to polish as a pilot and not make mistakes. As a driver, although it may seem a bit superb, I have not committed any. There was no 'uyuyuys'. This was very important for me, because I have not been slow and there were no scares. ”
If last year a truck that towed them after leaving almost threw them into the air, this year also Calleja has lived rocambolesque stories always encouraged by the Dakar. “We have made mistakes that we should not have made, such as leaving the hydraulic jacks twice without lifting, which took us a long time. We cut the first one after waiting for the assistance truck. The second one we couldn't, so I had to drag it as if it were an anchor, and it was embedded in the sand. I had to cross 54 km of dunes knowing that I could not fail at any time, because if I failed I was trapped. And if it happened, I didn't have a cat to pick it up and I stayed there. Imagine crossing dunes with an iron rod in your belly as if it were an anchor. ” Any luck.
But, in addition, the Dakar also began taking its toll on the pilot himself. “A brutal flu caught almost half of the camp. All mechanics went through the flu. I get caught in the first week. To be driving with a fever of 38 and 39 … If you already have excessive sweating in normal race conditions, if you sweat over fever, it becomes hard. In the end, you throw a lot of head, and with my head resolved. ” Then comes the 'enjoyment'. “Despite the problems, I have enjoyed, I am enjoying life, whatever I do. And when there are problems, I quickly remove it from my brain so it doesn't crush me. ”
We enter that ‘bonus pack’ from the experience of this Dakar, “the very good relationship that all Spaniards have had. The good vibes I have with Cristina Gutiérrez, the great friend that I have made in this world for all my life, and the value that this woman has in such a 'testosterone' world. Or with Óscar Fuertes, who has also made a very good relationship, with Xavi Foj, with Isidre Esteve, who have talked a lot, often merit has its own… ”.
The "oysters" that Alonso has endured
With Fernando Alonso there has been quite a bit of stuff, right? "Our caravans were together and we shared equipment, so we've had many days of laughter." In privacy, as he has seen the Asturian. Did you like the Dakar or not? “I have seen him hypermotivated, with a smile from ear to ear every day. The day he had it bad, he didn't cry in the morning, he was enraged to do better the next day. The Dakar he has done has been extraordinary to be the first, also in a race that was for buggies on the ground. With the 4×4, in the stone stages it seemed that they hit you with a hammer in the back when passing them. Scallops that you can't even imagine, and Fernando has endured scallops that I couldn't. I had to stop, because my body could not stand that hardness. Go at the speed that has gone and achieve the results you have achieved with a 4×4, be careful. With a buggie, don't see how it would have gone. ” Will the Spaniard repeat? “He liked it, and I know he will come back, because he has more chances to win it. And he knows it. He's an uncle challenges, like me, and that usually ends. In addition, it has a great reading of the dunes, makes them fantastic. We are all left with the detail of the overturn, but that can happen to anyone, they were very bastard dunes. Removing that, the rest has been extraordinary. ”
Alonso and Sainz in the same Dakar do not live every day. And with the victory of El Matador. How do you see Calleja in competition, at short distances? “I stay that, with 57 years, the uncle is there, they don't beat him. I am an advocate for people who have tacos, that we are capable of doing incredible things, it is a mental issue. And it is what I value most of Carlos. He always wins, always, every minute, and he has that innate ability to go for everyone forever. Is incredible".
The most beautiful desert in the world
It is now time to ask the adventurer about the landscapes and scenery of Saudi Arabia. His response is surprising, because the globetrotter has been surprised. "The landscapes, the beauties of the desert … The first four or five stages were, visually, really … There was one in which we got into canyons of red sand, it is the most beautiful long stage I've run in my life in a Dakar or the Africa Race. It is the most beautiful and varied desert in the world, and I have seen almost all the deserts. Saudi Arabia was unknown, now it is making an important opening, it has incredible tourist potential. "
Once conquered, will the Dakar now lose its power of seduction for Jesús Calleja? “For now, I have to study if I will return, maybe.” And what lessons have you left on the road after these four years? “I know about mountaineering, caving, diving… For me it has been very difficult to learn to be there and, above all, to do a twenty-ninth. I am left with that nothing is impossible, whatever we set out in life we can do. It is a matter of desire, of how you finish the objective, and I told myself that yes or yes it finished it ”.
Finally, we propose that you advance the script of one of your programs in which you choose a destination and a known character. In this case, a Dakar, and a co-pilot on his right. “I would like someone who could put a bit of a scare at the beginning, then explain four things about how the world really works, and I would have no doubt: it would take me to Donald Trump, I have it very clear, because every time I hear him talk…".