THIRD time lucky as the saying goes, and for Ingo Waldschmidt Namibia's enduro sensation, he is holding his breath as the days tick by before the official start of the world's toughest race begins - the Dakar. This adventurous Namibian will be flying the flag for the third year in the saddle of a KTM 450cc motor bike.
With only three weeks left to go, Ingo is all set to fly out on December 30th, to make it for start in Peru on 5 January. "It hasn't sunk in yet, and I haven't had much time to get excited because there is so much to organise, and I am still snowed under at work - but once Christmas is over and I board the plane - then the feeling will hit me," Ingo told Woema during an exclusive interview this week.
"It's quite scary - the reality of it all but I am mentally and physically prepared," added the enduro 'king' who made the final list from world riders to compete again in the much anticipated 'Argentina/Chile/Peru Dakar' off-road race which takes place on 5 -20 January, 2013.
"My number one aim is to finish and better my 38th position from my last Dakar in 2011," he said. This year there will be a stronger field at the start, because the organisers have hand-picked the entries based on their race credibility, so the competition is even tougher than before.
"We will all be riding with the same 450cc engine, which will level the playing field - so the best man can win without an unfair advantage."
But it takes more than a good engine to make it to the finish, and Ingo has embarked on a rigid fitness training drill and intense preparation programme for the Dakar. This included a gruelling navigating training and riding skill operation through the desert with a host of SA riders who will be joining him in the Dakar.
He tells you that he does a strict gym workout nearly every day, and goes jogging, but will take his foot off the pedal after the 20th, when he plans to give his body and mind some well-deserved down time, before embarking on the tortuous 15-day Dakar race.
Organising and prepping for the Dakar has been nine months of flat out arranging from international licenses, plane tickets, sponsors and other vital nitty-gritty details to prep him for his arduous journey and weeks away from home.
Time wasn't on his side when he had to raise funds for the 2013 Dakar, but Ingo swung into action, and has almost reached his target of N$903 000. This includes the hefty price tag of his state-of-the-art KTM enduro bike which was sponsored by Square Café.
"It was damn difficult in the time that I had, but luckily I have had amazing support from everyone, and couldn't have done it without my sponsors," he added, saying.
There is only one way to describe Ingo, who has just competed in the tough 2012 Namibian Enduro Championship series, and won - and that he is truly committed to the sport. His passion and dedication has earned him the respect of the international community, and support from the local business community, which is proof that everyone has his back as he prepares to ride his heart out.
"My bike left Namibia about a month ago and has been loaded in France onto a big Ferry along with all the other participating bikes, cars, trucks, back up vehicles which are on their way to the harbour in Lima - and is expected to dock on 1 Jan," he explained.
Ingo's string of achievements over the years, are staggering. He started riding Moto-X in 1982 at the age of eight and has been in the saddle ever since. Since then he has won 26 championship titles competing both in Moto-X events and Enduro challenges. The cherry on the cake of his outstanding accolades was the two Dakar finishes - his first in 2009, then again in 2011.
Once again he is about to brave the longest and toughest cross country desert rally in the world, with the world's best taking on a 9 500 breaking stretch through South America. He will travel light, and apart from two sets of riding kit for the two weeks in the saddle, he will only take a few light personal items to seem through.
Ingo will be entered in the Eduro bike 'amateur' category against 160 crack riders from the world circuit, which will see an additional 40 international off-road Professional riders battling it out in the field.