Dakar detour for Villas-Boas

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-01 07:19

PARIS - Portuguese soccer manager Andre Villas-Boas will drive in the Dakar Rally in January, the organizers announced on Wednesday.

Villas-Boas, who has coached Porto, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Zenit St Petersburg and, most recently, Shanghai SIPG, will drive a Toyota Hilux in the two-week race that starts on Jan 6 in Lima, Peru, and traverses the Andes before finishing in Argentina.

Villas-Boas is reviving a family tradition, his uncle Pedro Villas-Boas drove in the race in 1982 in a 4x4.

He is not the first celebrity to take part. French rocker Johnny Hallyday raced in 2002 and Prince Albert of Monaco competed twice and his sister Princess Caroline once.

The rally's website reported that Villas-Boas was an enthusiastic dirt biker as a teenager in Oporto and competed regularly in the Portuguese off-road championships.

Villas-Boas turned 40 in October and said he had thought of celebrating by riding in the 40th Dakar but then changed his mind after talking to one of the motorbike teams.

"I spoke with my friend Alex Doringer, the manager of the KTM team, who told me that I would still need a full year's preparation to get there and that it was better to consider doing it with a car," Villas-Boas told the website.

"So I got in touch with Team Overdrive and here I am!"

He will be partnered with compatriot Ruben Faria, who is also a two-wheel specialist and finished second in the bike category in the 2013 race, which also started in the Peruvian capital.

"When Andre called me to propose that I join him, I had to think about it... for at least five seconds," Faria said.

"It is a great challenge and I think that we can put in a good Dakar, which means making it to the bivouac every night and not to arrive too late!"

For the time being, Villas-Boas is still coach of Shanghai SIPG, after replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But the Portuguese shouldered the blame after he failed to inspire the big-spending SIPG to silverware in his first season in China, and his future likely will be resolved by next week.

British media reported the 40-year-old has refused SIPG's one-year extension, saying he wants a rest.

Agence France - presse

(China Daily 12/01/2017 page22)

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