The Peruvian Lucas Barrón will make history in the Dakar Rally 2019, when from January 6 he becomes the first competitor with Down syndrome to participate in one of the most demanding races on the planet.
“Our goal is to finish the route and reach the finish line,” assures AFP Lucas Barrón, who will accompany his father Jacques Barrón as co-driver in the test that this year will be run entirely in Peru.
Lucas prepared for months for this tough test, in which more than 500 pilots will participate, and where he will be the first competitor with Down syndrome in the 41-year history of the Dakar.
Born in Lima, Lucas, 25, exudes enthusiasm for being on the verge of fulfilling one of his dreams as an athlete.
«This race is good for me. It will be easy because we know the route, ”said the young man with the bright eyes in a mechanic’s workshop in Lima, where they give the last tunings to the UTV vehicle that he will share with his father.
The Barróns participate in the SXS category of the toughest motorized event in the world, which will be run between January 6 and 17 on Peruvian soil.
– A multisport player –
Few sports are alien to Lucas’ will to improve himself. After practicing swimming, soccer, cycling, surfing and waterskiing, he feels that he is “prepared and trained to overcome the dunes of the Peruvian desert”.
Passionate about rock and hip hop, Lucas explained to AFP that his mission will consist of being aware of any mechanical failure and the state of the route.
“I’m going to help him see the engine, the route and the tires,” said the young man, proudly wearing his white co-pilot suit.
For Lucas 5,000 kilometers of dunes mainly await him, in the ten stages of the Dakar-2019.
The Peruvian desert is not alien to this lover of the sport of iron. In September he was his father’s co-driver in the Dakar Series-Desafío Inca, a preparatory race for the Dakar 2019, which was run in the dunes of Ica, in southern Peru.
The ‘Barrón x 2’ team, as they named it, finished seventh in that competition.
– The eyes of the vehicle –
Jacques Barrón, a 55-year-old engineer, told AFP that he had no problem with the Dakar organizers to enter his son in the competition.
The requirement was the same as that of any competitor: pass all medical examinations and have the required documents.
“Lucas already has a license from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to participate in the Dakar,” his father told AFP.
Barrón indicated that Lucas is not afraid of anything, he knows what to do if a mechanical problem arises. “He knows how to see the temperature of the belt, oil and tire pressure,” he said.
“Lucas’s eyes will be the eyes of the car to avoid hitting another car or any object,” added Jacques, who has already participated in the Dakar five times.
«People with Down syndrome develop certain abilities. Lucas can develop any sport “, emphasized with pride his father.
In its 5,000 kilometers – 70% of them in the sand – the Dakar will travel through Lima and the southern regions of Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna, the latter bordering Chile.
The toughest stage for each car and truck will be the 370-kilometer marathon between Arequipa and Tacna, on the fifth day (January 10).
– «Despres congratulated me» –
Lucas admires the French rider Cyril Despres, a friend of his father, with whom he trained when he raced on a motorcycle in the Peruvian dunes and deserts.
“Despres wrote to me on Facebook, he congratulated me,” he said after recalling that the five-time Dakar motorcycle champion gave him an autographed shirt in 2017 that he keeps as a personal treasure.
Without large sponsors and with a year and a half preparation, father and son will compete in the race with vehicle number 433, a small sandbox UTV that Jacques bought for about $ 30,000.
The Dakar will take place for the fourth time in Peru, although the 2019 version will be run only in this country. Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile declined to be part of the test for reasons of austerity. AFP