Tiago Monteiro has decided to cross the threshold of a new experience in auto racing and add a new string to his bow in participating in the king of rally-raids, the 2008 Lisbon-Dakar. The SEAT Sport driver in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) will hit the starting line in Lisbon on January 5th, and hopes to make the Senegalese beaches on the 20th after having fulfilled several objectives, competitive, personal, and humanitarian.
Tiago has often thought of adding the mythic rally to his calendar but until this year it was incompatible with his on-track profession. In 2008 the Dakar will celebrate its 30th anniversary with the Lisbon-native driver. The project began taking form when its organizers expressed interest in Tiago's participation; it solidified thanks to the confluence of three major elements (project, team, sponsors) and thanks to the fact that Tiago's competitive schedule will let him take part in the adventure.
Tiago has always cultivated a taste for variety in auto racing and taking up the challenge of the Lisbon-Dakar will enable him to satisfy his adventurous and competitive spirit. He will find himself alone in the desert for two weeks, and will have to tap into his physical and moral reserves and confront a sometimes hostile climate and geography.
Tiago will drive a Buggy Desert, initially developed by Jean-Louis Schlesser and prepared by Philippe Gache and his SMG. The radical concept of the buggy is the most popular with the public and the closest true image of the Dakar adventure: 900 km with no windshield or air conditioning in an environment that pushes the limits of man's physical and moral resistance.
"Taking part in this contest is a great challenge for me and I will dive in with my usual devotion so as to reach my objective, which is to reach Dakar." Tiago declared. "Given the fact that I will not be battling for the top positions we have decided to add a humanitarian project to my sporting adventure, in order to help children in need. This project was put together with the participation of two humanitarian organizations, which have gathered some very precious aid from all of our sponsors."
Tiago will promote two humanitarian groups by taking advantage of the media coverage of the most popular rally in the world. In addition to this boost, Tiago will personally commit to help financing a project with each of the groups. The first of them, Actions Dakar, will support the efforts of the NGO SOS Sahel with the neediest populations in the regions crossed by the Dakar caravan. It works toward raising awareness, environmental education, and natural-resource protection, reforestation and protecting nature by enriching the land and forest resources, with actions promoting health protection and water hygiene.
The second group Tiago will help promote is Nariz Vermelho; it is dedicated to helping hospitalized children. "Thousands of children in Portugal will wake up in a hospital bed this year. Some will be there for minor treatment, others for more complex medical treatment. Many will be deeply affected, they all will have a feeling of loneliness and will want to go home. Our objective is to make this daily life more human. More than 27,000 children each year benefit from the efforts of Nariz Vermelho."
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