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First Cyprus crew to take part in Dakar Rally.

A Limassol-based driver and his Dutchman team-mate will be the first Cypriot team to take part in the grueling Dakar Rally in January, it was announced on Friday.

Roman Starikovich, CEO of the travel and property Orpheus Group will lead the Autolife Team through the deserts, salt lakes, jungles and mountainous terrains of South America, together with his co-pilot, a multiple Dakar partaker, Bert Heskes of The Netherlands.

The Dakar Rally has been held annually since 1979. Initially taking place in southern Europe and Africa, it was relocated to South America in 2009 due to terrorist menace. Today the rally has become the second most covered motorsport event in the world after Formula 1.

The 2017 edition of the rally will be hosted by Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina and will include 12 stages with an accumulated length of 9,000 kilometres. The opening ceremony will be conducted in Asuncion, Paraguay on January 2 and the final podium will be held in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina 12 days later. The upcoming race promises to be one of the hardest ones ever, since an almost 900-kilometre long marathon stage will follow the path across Salar Uyuni, the largest salt lake in the world.

The Cypriot team's adventure began with a chance meeting between Roman Starikovich and two-times Dakar champion, Nasser Al-Atiyah of Qatar in 2015. Since then, for Roman it has been all about striving forward in order to one day join Al-Atiyah in the list of the Dakar participants.

Intensive physical and cross-country driving skills trainings began in September 2015 in Morocco under the guidance of "The Princess of Dakar", Annie Seel, after a Desert Warrior all-terrain car had been purchased from the British manufacturer, Rally Raid UK. The vehicle, acquired by Roman and used as the team's flagship was specifically designed for cross-country racing, having been based on a purposely designed space frame and powered by a BMW engine.

The current year saw multiple victories for the team achieved in local rallies in Cyprus and a 16th overall position at the Hungarian Baja Rally.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Oct 29, 2016
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