DECEMBER 29, 2001
France looks the other way...
THE survival of Prost Grand Prix will get little air time in France in the next few weeks as attention in France turns to the annual Paris-Dakar extravaganza, an event which continues to attract enormous interest in the country. Between now and January 13 most of the inches available for motor sport will be taken up with the Dakar as the 400 competitors struggle across the Safari Desert to the city of Dakar in Senegal, on the west coast of Africa.
Ironically the man who will be getting a lot of the coverage in the next few weeks will be Jean-Louis Schlesser who, back in 1979, shared the French Formula 3 Championship title with Prost. Alain went on to win four World Championships while Schlesser won the World Sportscar title twice before beginning a hugely successful career in cross-country rallying. A highly-talented driver, Schlesser was a regular test driver for Frank Williams in the 1980s but raced only once in F1 when he deputized for Nigel Mansell at the Italian GP at Monza in 1988. His presence did not go unnoticed, however, as Ayrton Senna went off while lapping the Williams in the closing laps of the race and provided Ferrari's Gerhard Berger with the opportunity to win the race - the only non-McLaren victory that year.
Like Prost Schlesser eventually began building his own competition cars and his Buggies (which are sponsored - ironically - by Prost's former backer Gauloises) are going to be making the running on the Paris-Dakar as usual.
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