Team FJ has announced the three cars that they will be entering in the 2023 edition of Dakar Rally, headlined by EuroNASCAR’s founder and CEO Jérôme Galpin in the No. 701 FJ ProTruck sponsored by EuroNASCAR’s title sponsor Whelen and Yannick Panagiotis’ entry to the main rally itself.
Team FJ, the sporting organization behind EuroNASCAR, will be returning to the Dakar Rally in 2023 after a successful debut in the world’s largest rally raid event this year. Team FJ announced yesterday that a total of three entries, including the team’s first entry in the main classification, will be entered by the team in 2023.
Headlining the team’s entry is EuroNASCAR’s founder and CEO Jérôme Galpin, who will enter the historic-based Dakar Classic once more. He will be partnered by his wife Anne in the No. 701 Ford Ranger-based FJ ProTruck, which will feature a new sponsorship from a familiar company: Whelen, title sponsor of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
The Galpin’s, who had plenty of experience in rallying, were a force to be reckoned in this year’s Dakar Classic. The duo won the penultimate stage and claimed the victory in the H3 category. They also narrowly missed out on an overall podium finish, having finished just one position behind third place finisher Jesus Fuster Pliego and Juan Carlos Ramirez.
With the important experience acquired, Jérôme is targeting to not only defend their title in the H3 category of the Dakar Classic, but also a spot in the overall podium.
“Anne and I are very happy to participate in another Dakar Classic and to wear the colors of Whelen Engineering!” said Jérôme in the official announcement. “With 3 cars entered, we continue the development of Team FJ in rally raids, in addition to our various activities on European rallies and circuits. The FJ ProTruck’s showed their performance and reliability last year and will be in contention for victory again.”
Yannick Panagiotis, who made an one-off EuroNASCAR appearance at Valencia earlier this year, is also going to re-enter the Dakar Rally in 2023. While their debut Dakar was sadly cut short due to a positive COVID test midway through the rally, he and his wife Valerie will be aiming for bigger things in 2023 as they are scheduled to take part in the main Dakar Rally itself.
Their entry to the Dakar was secured in June after their victory in TGRSA Desert 1000’s Road to Dakar Challenge. The winners of the Road to Dakar Challenge were given the chance to enter either the next Dakar Rally or the Dakar Rally in the year after. For the Panagiotis’, it meant that they’re guaranteed to enter either the 2023 or the 2024 edition of the Dakar Rally.
With their entry secured, Team FJ and the Panagiotis’ have chosen to enter the 2023 edition with the Panasport-backed No. 258 Century Racing CR6 buggy, the same machine that brought them to the Road to Dakar victory earlier this year.
“The Panasport team has been preparing relentlessly throughout the year for this mechanical challenge and human adventure and this is it, we’re there! Let’s go!” said Panagiotis, who had also further tested their CR6 in Namibia.
Completing Team FJ’s three-car team is Sodemo Moteurs’ Guillaume and Faïza Maillard, who will be taking part in the No. 737 FJ ProTruck that Panagiotis raced with in 2022.
Just like the Galpin’s and the Panagiotis’, the Maillard’s also had plenty of experience in motorsport and rallying. Guillaume, in particular, was a regular in the European rallycross championships for the past 12 years and had recently completed the Tour de Corse Historic behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 SC with wife Faïza as his co-driver.
That being said, their entry in the 2023 edition of the Dakar Classic will be the first rally raid experience of their career. As a result, their target for the Dakar Classic is simple: Finish the rally and enjoy it as much as possible.
“This is a great challenge for Faïza and I who have no experience in rally raid and have not had the time to prepare this great adventure. But as Nelson Mandela said, it always seems impossible until you do it,” said Guillaume on his upcoming Dakar participation.
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Team FJ.