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A beginners’ guide to Dakar

by admin

A few pointers so you can join in discussions about the race and not look like a complete tosser…

General facts

* Created after the near-death experience of French motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine


* Sabine became lost during a race in the Libyan desert in 1977 and was convinced that others would want the challenge he faced

* 180 teams participated in the first Paris Dakar Rally in 1978, starting in Paris, France, and finishing in the northern African city of Dakar, Senegal

* The rally is annual, and has run every year except 2008

* During preparations for the 2008 Dakar, four French spectators were murdered in Mauritania, allegedly by al-Qaeda terrorists. The terrorist group then claimed it would use Dakar competitors as target practice in the African desert. The event was abandoned and moved

* The first South American Dakar was 2009

* The Dakar runs for 15 days in early January

* More than 50 people have been killed since the Dakar’s founding in 1978, including the Rally’s founder, Thierry Sabine

* Between 450 and 500 vehicles have started recent Dakars, and only half have finished

* The race is watched by more than 90 people million around the world. Over 190 different countries take the international television feed

* Organisers provide 20 edit stations for various countries to produce their own programmes. There are four TV helicopters, six stage cameras, and three bivouac crews to make over 1000 hours of TV over the two-week period.

* The race is open to amateur and professional entries

* Amateurs typically make up about 80 percent of participants.

* Stage distances vary, and can be up to 900km per day

Names to note:

* Amaury Sport Organisation organises the events

* Thierry Sabine created the event and was killed in a helicopter crash during the event in 1986

* Cyril Neveu was the event’s first winner on a Yamaha

* Gaston Rahier had back-to-back wins for BMW in 1984 and 1985

* Stephan Peterhansel won on bikes and in cars

* Marc Coma, KTM rider, won Dakar five times and is a six-time Cross-Country Rallies World Champion

* Cyril Despres is a five-time winner

* Andy Caldecott was a hugely respected Australian competitor who was killed contesting his third Dakar in 2006

* Toby Price is an Australian KTM rider who finished third in Dakar in 2015, then won in 2016

Vehicle classes:

* Moto (motorcycles) From 2011, engine-capacity is limited to 450cc. Engines may be either single or twin cylinder. Riders are divided into two groups, ‘Elite’ (Group 1) and Non-Elite (Group 2), with the latter subdivided into two further groups – the ‘Super Production’ (Group 2.1) and ‘Marathon’ (Group 2.2) classes. Marathon competitors are not permitted to change components like engines (including the engine case, cylinders and cylinder heads), frame, forks or swingarm, whereas those in the Super Production and Elite classes can.

* Quads

* Cars (range from buggies to small SUVs)

* Trucks

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