10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Dakar Rally

The Dakar Rally refers to an annual race organized by the Amaury Sport Organization. It started in the late 1970s, meaning that it can’t compare to some of the races that were founded in even earlier times. However, the Dakar Rally has had more than enough time to build up a powerful reputation, with the result that it has become a very well-known name. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Dakar Rally:

1. It Is a Rally Raid

The Dakar Rally is what is called a rally raid. Essentially, rally raids are a kind of offroad racing that sees participants traveling over long distances, so much so that such races tend to take place over the course of 3 to 15 days. As a result, rally raids come with a particular set of challenges that can make them very interesting to a particular segment of motorsports fans.

2. The Name Refers to the Capital of Senegal

Dakar refers to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The region was settled no later than the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the French took control of more of it surroundings that it turned into one of the most important cities of the French colonial empire. Nowadays, Dakar remains very important for Senegal and beyond.

3. The Traditional Course Is Paris to Dakar

The traditional course for the Dakar Rally starts out in Paris, France and finishes up in Dakar, Senegal. It passes through some of the most challenging terrain that can be found in the entire world, which explains some of the more notable incidents that have happened over the course of the race’s existence.

4. The Traditional Course Isn’t the Current Course

With that said, the traditional course is no longer the current course. In short, what happened is that the 2008 Dakar Rally was threatened by terrorist organizations, meaning that the race organizers had very understandable concerns about the safety of the race’s participants. Something that was particularly true because four French tourists had been killed on Christmas Eve in Mauritania, which was no more than a few days before the race was scheduled to start.

5. There Was a One-Time Makeup Race

In 2008, there was a make-up race that started out in Hungary before finishing up in Romania. Said race was called the Central European Rally. However, it was never repeated because it was replaced by the current course, which can be found in South America.

6. The Dakar Rally Now Takes Place in South America

The current incarnation of the Dakar Rally takes place in South America. However, the people behind the race have elected to retain the name in spite of the new location, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the amount of brand value that has built up behind it.

7. Open to Amateurs and Professionals

Both amateurs and professionals can participate in the Dakar Rally. In fact, there are estimates that amateurs make up around 80 percent of the participants in the races that have been held so far.

8. People Get Lost a Lot

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people get lost a lot in the Dakar Rally. In part, this is because they have to cover a vast distance, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for them to get lost. However, it should also be noted that the participants are racing on offroad terrain that most of them will have minimal familiarity with, which is on top of how they are supposed to find their own way around.

9. People Have Been Killed

There have been a fair number of people killed in the Dakar Rally, which is something that is still happening in recent times. For example, a woman was killed in Argentina when she was struck by a car that had gone off-course. Likewise, there was a rider who died on the first day of the race in 2012 when he fell off of his motorcycle and suffered a heart attack.

10. Has Received a Wide Range of Criticism

Over the course of its existence, the Dakar Rally has received a wide range of criticism from a wide range of parties. Some examples include the negative impact on the environment, the lack of value for the locals, and in one case, serious damage to archaeological sites situated in the country of Chile.


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