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Race to Dakar team leave Europe - January 1st 2006

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    The Race to Dakar team set sail for Morocco tonight happy in the knowledge they've completed the first two days without any major hitches. Today's 567 km stage took the competitors from Portimão, Portugal to the Spanish coastal town of Malaga where they caught a ferry to the African continent.

    The second day's special stage was 115km long and although more challenging than the first one the riders were blessed with near perfect conditions. The success of the last European leg has given even more encouragement to Charley Boorman, Simon Pavey, Matt Hall and the rest of the Race to Dakar team.

    "Today it's actually starting to feel properly like the Dakar," explained a very excited Boorman. "Yesterday I was so nervous I wanted to go home but today I feel a lot more inspired and I'm much more optimistic about the rest of the race. As we boarded the ferry to sail to Africa I think the whole team's mood changed. Now we've left all the distractions of Europe behind the Dakar really starts."

    For both Boorman and Hall the second day was about settling in to the Rally. But for experienced Dakar racer Si Pavey it was more about getting used to a different focus in the event.

    "I'm starting to get more comfortable with my new role," explained Pavey. "I've got a different head on my shoulders this year, it's no longer about me as an individual rider but about the team as a whole. I'm constantly thinking about the logistics of the operation, I'm really happy with how it's all panning out."

    Going into the African stages Charley Boorman is now in 114th place with Matt Hall in 110th and Simon Pavey in 121st. British BMW racer, Nick Plumb is currently in 70th position overall on his F650GS.

    Portugal's Ruben Faria took today's stage win. The local's inside knowledge gave him the advantage needed to set the quickest time. Overall lead of the motorcycle category is now with Spain's Isidre Esteve who leads from compatriot Marc Coma and Portugal's Helder Rodrigues.

    Tomorrow's special stage will be the hardest yet and the first real test of navigation. The 672km route guides the competitors through Morocco from Nador to Er Rachidia via a 314km special stage.