The Dakar Rally 2014
With the F1 season still a few months away, I thought that maybe you are need of some other form of motor sport excitement. If you are, then I have some good news for you. This weekend 500 participants will be making last minute checking and tuning of engines in preparation for the Sunday start of the 2014 Dakar rally. The Dakar rally is not just about cars racing against each other, as the rally includes entrants on motorbikes, quads and even trucks!
The Dakar is being covered in 190 countries using over 70 TV Channels. This is no ordinary rally; strategically placed cameras are situated at certain points on the route. Due to the extreme nature of the rally, each day the race will be covered by 3 helicopters.
The Dakar rally began when Thierry Sabine got lost whilst riding his motorbike in the Libyan Desert during the Abidjan-Nice rally in 1977. After being rescued, Sabine was still inspired by the thought of organising a race over the extreme landscape that he had endured. He took his idea and it soon became a route commencing in Europe, continuing through Algiers crossing the Agadez, and finishing in Dakar, hence its name.
While organising the first Dakar rally, Sabine came up with a motto that has become firmly entrenched in the spirit of the race.
“A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”
The Dakar is open to all riders and drivers to compete in, and well into the 80’s there were entrants that had cobbled together motorbikes in their own back yards or sheds. The sheer adventure of these individuals captured the imagination of people worldwide.
The spirit of the rally is still going strong, and even with today’s technological advances drivers and riders are still very much at risk of becoming lost in the desert.
Unfortunately in 1986, during the race, Thierry Sabine died in a helicopter crash. His ashes were scattered in the desert, and although the organisers and the competitors were stunned by the news, it was decided by the organisers that the 1986 rally would continue as a mark of respect for Sabine.
The 2008 Rally had to be cancelled due to security issues of potential terrorist attacks on the rally itself. Since then it has used alternative routes set in South America. This year’s race starts off in Rosario on Sunday 5th January and finishes in Valparaiso on 18th January.
Crossing 3 countries, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, the 2014 Dakar is going to push riders and drivers alike due to Bolivia’s extreme landscape. If this was not enough, on two occasions, the motorcycle and quad bike riders will take part in marathon stages lasting 2 days. There will be overnight accommodation for the driver in a bivouac, and just to throw a spanner in the works (no pun intended), the riders will not have access to their support teams. The will have to rely on help from other competitors if they need to make any adjustments to their vehicles.
If you have never watched coverage of the Dakar Rally then this is something you need to at least see once. All the vehicles taking part will at many points of the race be driving on tracks, and over desert landscape that was never meant to be raced over.
The rally is more than a race though; it reverts back to the importance of taking part and completing it. If you follow the Dakar this year, you will see competitors helping each other, even when they are not called upon to do so. Support teams often offer assistance to other drivers and riders in trouble.
It is this camaraderie amongst competitors, and their spirit of adventure that pulls in millions of television viewers from around the globe each year.
You can catch coverage of the 2014 Dakar Rally on Euro sport, and on their YouTube channel, at: http://www.youtube.com/user/dakar