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Former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas says Dakar Rally ‘different’ to football

Andre Villas-Boas, the former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Porto manager, is competing for Toyota Overdrive 4x4 in the Dakar Rally and says the two sports are different due to the varying team dynamics.

other sports Updated: Jan 08, 2018 11:56 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Pisco
Andre Villas-Boas,Dakar Rally,Chelsea
Andre Villas-Boas has always had a passion for motorsports and is competing at the Dakar Rally this year with Toyota Overdrive 4x4. (HT Photo)

The sun is setting on the first day of Dakar Rally here as the bivouac gets filled with noise of rumbling machines, getting prepped up for a long Day 2. With the prospect of another challenging stretch in front of him, Andre Villas-Boas can’t contain his excitement.

The former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Porto manager is competing for Toyota Overdrive 4x4 and ended the first day in the 42nd position.

“It (the first day) went very well. I was a little bit anxious yesterday but today when I finally reached the start, everything went well. So, I am very happy. It is only my second time in the sand dunes in Dakar. Everything went perfect for us,” Villas-Boas said outside his team tent.

“Of course, it was only 31 km today and tomorrow will be much more difficult. But very happy as the first leg is always very exciting.”

The 40-year-old Villas-Boas has an old connection with Dakar. His uncle Pedro competed in the Dakar in 1982 and 1984, and that makes the football manager believe that he has a special relationship with motorsports.

“I have a passion for motorsports. I have been following the Dakar since childhood. I always wanted to do it. This time there was a chance and I did it,” said Villas-Boas. At the 2018 Dakar, he is driving a Toyota Hilux with co-driver Ruben Faria, runner-up in the motorcycle category in 2013.

Villas-Boas’s ‘chance’ came after he quit as the coach of Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua. And as he takes a break, speculation is doing the rounds that he might return to a Premier League club. But with Toyota’s press officer strictly saying no to questions on football, there was no means to confirm it.

However, when a happy UEFA Europa League winning coach is taking questions, football can never be too far.

“It’s (competing in Dakar) a bit different (from playing football). Obviously, there is a lot of team work to be done with the mechanic, logistics and team management. But in the hot seat it’s only me and my co-driver. These machines, they are strong. But we need care of them for the crucial days,” he said.

“Before coming here, I did six days practice in Morocco but not with Toyota. With Toyota only one day practice in Belgium and one in Barcelona. So, the shake down over here was very important. The car is superb and I got adjusted to it really quick.”

Villas-Boas has kept no sponsors name on his car and he has a special reason. “The car carries the name of my three charities. I am not doing this for money,” smiles Villas-Boas, before going back to fine-tuning his car.

First Published: Jan 07, 2018 11:03 IST