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The Dakar

The Dakar Rally (or simply “The Dakar“; formerly known as “The Paris–Dakar” or “Paris to Dakar Rally”) is an annual rally raid type of off road race, organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America (Argentina, Chile and Peru). It was the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa. It has stayed in South America from 2009 to the present day. The race is open to amateur and professional entries. Amateurs typically make up about eighty percent of the participants.

Dakar-riders-in-the-dust-150x150Despite its name it is an off-road endurance race, called a rally-raid rather than a conventional rally – the terrain the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified on-road vehicles used in rallies. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and erg among others. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometers (500–560 mi) per day, with a total distance cover of 9,000 kilometers over 14 days riding. More than just a simple race to see who is quickest, the Dakar demands off-piste navigational capacities and consistency. More significantly, on rally raids, endurance is paramount, with the slightest flaw proving critical. This mix of physical resistance and technical performance has, over thirty years, attracted champions from various horizons, all wishing to test their mettle and try and tame this out-of-the ordinary event.

Dakar village in the desertThe Dakar Rally is a unique human exploit of which the history has been created in the heart of some of the world’s most stunning deserts and belongs to the world of the greatest sports challenges of our time. Both a motor race and an orienteering challenge, the Dakar Rally pits some of the world’s greatest long-distance rally drivers against amateur competitors, for whom the race is often the culmination of their dreams and who come to take up the challenge with their motorcycles, quad bikes, cars and trucks. The challenge attracts competitors of more than 50 nationalities, who are watched on television by over a billion viewers in 190 countries.

An extraordinary human experience: Like the mountains or the oceans, the wide open spaces inspire “the adventurers”. Entering the Dakar is, in a certain way, like climbing Everest, sailing round the globe or rowing round the world. The places on the final podium represent an exceptional challenge, sometimes that of a lifetime. Apart from the rankings, all the competitors are motivated by this resolute desire, an almost crazy dream. Whether they are motorcyclists, car and truck drivers, or quad bike riders, they all share this ambition, a feeling that brings them together. The tradition of solidarity, a principle which is one of the pillars of the “Dakar Spirit”, stems from this shared passion: despite the linguistic barriers, on this level the competitors all speak the same language.

Dakar bike and helicopterA nomadic international event: Founded in Africa, where it built up its legend, “The Dakar” is by nature attracted to the unknown. The discovery of regions, countries and continents, a rationale of the event, has pushed the Dakar to take a new direction. The Sahara fascinated competitors for almost thirty years, but now the Dakar is attempting to conquer other continents, with an unfailing will to surprise. Having become a nomadic international event, the Dakar draws on a thirst for interaction and the open-mindedness of its competitors, who all crave to explore the deserts of the world.


Separate routes: covering more than 40% of the distance

For many years, the Dakar organisers have endeavoured to adapt the race route to South America’s open terrain, enabling all categories of vehicle to explore the routes which are best suited to them. For the 2014 edition,

five special stages have been marked out on completely separate routes, with motorcycles and quad bikes on one hand and cars and trucks on the other. Overall, the ‘separation’ includes around 2,000 kilometres of timed sections, covering more than 40% of the distance.

In sporting terms, this has the double advantage of taking motorcycle and quad riders onto more technical and narrower tracks during some stages, while enabling the leaders of the car race to ‘hit the trail’ without using the tracks left by the two-wheelers.

This is also a decisive advantage in terms of safety, as separating the routes eliminates all situations requiring careful overtaking. The benefit is even greater given that the stages in question are essentially in the first part of the rally, when there are many vehicles on the track.

Motorcycles-quad bikes: two marathon stages

On two occasions, riders in the motorcycle and quad bike categories will embark upon marathon stages, extending over two days. With overnight accommodation in a bivouac reserved exclusively for them, the riders will not have the back-up of their assistance teams, and will have to rely on help from other competitors to make any adjustments to their vehicles. In this context, team strategies are crucial and the management of equipment is decisive, particularly in terms of wear and tear on tyres.

In total, the two marathon stages will represent 2,702km (1,228km between San Rafael and Chilecito plus 1,474km between Salta and Calama), including a special stage of 1,590km (726 km and 864 km).



Visit to Bolivia:

The organisers of the Dakar were keen to discover new regions and were won over by the Bolivian landscapes, ranked among the most stunning ones that the continent has to offer. Nevertheless, their wish to take the 2014 edition’s competitors there had to be weighed up against the geographical and climatic difficulties, which make the preparation of a “classic” stage through Bolivia harder. So the Dakar’s route will cross the border in a particular way, with a marathon stage in the south of the country. This unique format, which may only concern motorcycles, will allow a new strategy to be tested on the rally, opening the way to new possibilities.

Several marathon stages:

The organisers’ extensive knowledge of Argentina and Chile will allow the stages to be meticulously marked out. To highlight the physical and strategic aspects comprising the essence of off-road races, the 2014 Dakar will boast longer special stages and shorter liaison sections. The distinctive features of North West Argentina’s tracks and the dunes will require the drivers to be attentive at all times and the Atacama Desert will appear in a new light with the difficulties that the vehicles will face there. With several marathon stages on the agenda, managing mechanics will be even more vital to ensuring the vehicles’ performance.



The blue and white stripes proudly worn by the national football and basketball teams, champions the world over thanks to victories at the World Cup and the Olympic Games were originally worn in Rosario. In the middle of the War of Independence, in 1812 to be precise, General Manuel Belgrano designed and hoisted the Argentinean flag for the first time, and chose the colours of the cockade used by the revolutionaries he was leading. Since then, this city, on the right bank of the Rio Parana, has been prosperous, benefiting from a geographically favourable position, and is at an equal distance from both Buenos Aires and Cordoba, the two cities which surpass it in terms of population.

A centre for communications and exchange, Rosario has in particular won over the hearts of Argentineans, thanks to a few of its natives. The most famous of these remains Ernesto Guevara who, long before becoming the “Che”, was born in Rosario. Much later, it was also here that a young boy named Lionel Messi first began playing football, in particular for the Newell’s Old Boys, a club for which Diego Maradona also played a few matches. By welcoming the drivers and teams of the Dakar during the first few days of 2014, the city will have the opportunity to become a part of the rich national history of motor sports, like Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata.


Rosario and Valparaiso, the two port cities, which have influenced the history of trade over the centuries and are each situated on opposite sides of the continent, have already been twinned for almost twenty years. They will also be united through sport thanks to the route that will be marked out for the 2014 Dakar. Founded in the 16th century, Valparaiso developed through trade from then, with one of the only harbours able to accommodate the biggest ships in this part of the Pacific. Consequently, passing sailors and traders turned it into one of the most dynamic cities in 18th and 19th century Chile. Although it is no longer a mandatory stop-off point on the way to Cape Horn since the opening of the Panama Canal, Valparaiso has preserved a strong cultural tradition from its heyday.

The El Mercurio de Valparaiso daily newspaper, set up in 1827, bears witness to this period and remains the oldest Spanish-language newspaper still published. And it was no coincidence that the country’s most renowned writer-activist, Pablo Neruda, lived there for so many years. The appeal of the 44 hills overlooking the ocean, covered in colourful houses which delight painters and photographers alike, makes this view one-of-its kind and has given Valparaiso its nickname of the “Pearl of the Pacific”. The Dakar’s drivers, who naturally have fond memories of their trip to “Valpo” for the rest day in 2009, will definitely be even more thrilled when they reach the final finish there, 5 years later.


05/01/2014 Rosario to San Luis

06/01/2014 San Luis to San Rafael

07/01/2014 San Rafael to San Juan

08/01/2014 San Juan to Chilecito

09/01/2014 Chilecito to Tucumán

10/01/2014 Tucumán to Salta

11/01/2014 Rest day

12/01/2014 Salta Salta/Uyuni bikes to Bolivia

13/01/2014 Salta/Uyuni Calama bikes back from Bolivia

14/01/2014 Calama to Iquique

15/01/2014 Iquique to Antofagasta

16/01/2014 Antofagasta to El Salvador

17/01/2014 El Salvador to La Serena

18/01/2014 La Serena to Valparaíso

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