New Straits Times
By : Ajitpal Singh
VERY few people are betting against France winning the FEI World Endurance Championship (WEC) which starts tomorrow at the Terengganu International Endurance Park (TIEP) in Lembah Bidong, Setiu.
The French team have numerous star riders, own a record four WEC team titles and carry an aura of invincibility in endurance racing.
There is no denying France, the reigning world team champions, are heavily favoured to win a fifth time.
The French, however, pointed out that things won't be as simple as they look.
"It's true that we have great chances to win the WEC team event, but that doesn't mean it's a done deal," said France team leader Jean-Louis Leclerc.
"It's humid here unlike in France. My riders are inexperienced in such weather conditions and they need a good strategy to overcome it.
"However, racing at night would not be a problem for the team as we have raced in night events in Europe.
"We arrived on Oct 17 to prepare for the event. The riders have tested the course a few times and are prepared."
France won their first world team title in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, and again in 1994 (Den Haag, the Netherlands). They were victors for a third time in 2002 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain and again in 2006 in Aachen, Germany.
France have also won two world individual titles through Maya Killa Perringerard (2000-Comoiegne, France) and Barbara Lissarague (2004-Dubai, UAE).
This time around, France have named a stronger team comprising riders who won the European individual and team titles in Spain, last year.
The team includes European individual champion Jean Philippe Frances, who rides Hanaba Du Bois, Virginie Atger (Hadia De Jalima), Philippe Benoit (Akim Du Boulve), Pascale Dietsch (Hifrane Du Barthas), Caroline Denayer (Gwellik Du Parc) and Julien Lafaure (Jharez De Cabirat).
However, those selected are not necessarily the best from France as absent are World No 1 Jack Begaud, World No 3 Laurent Mosti and World No 10 Vincent Dupont.
"Begaud had two horses qualified for the WEC here. However, he sold his horses. It would have been great to have him around. I'm not sure about Mosti and Dupont," said Leclerc.
Posted By Merri to WEC Reports at 11/06/2008 04:15:00 AM
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