"A challenge for those who go on. A dream for those who stay behind." This is how the founder of the Dakar Rally, Thierry Sabine, once described his inspiration for the most fascinating rally event on the international motorsport calendar. Since 1978, courageous drivers on motorcycles, quads, in cars and trucks have been demonstrating their ability as they make their way through the desert on the world's most infamous endurance rally.
Up to 2008, the event was held exclusively in Africa, and was initially known as the "Paris-Dakar Rally" due to the location of its start and finish. Over the course of time, the route and the start and finish locations have changed several times. In 1995 the rally started elsewhere other than Paris for the first time. "Paris-Dakar" became "Dakar". Then, in 2009, the unsettled political situation in some African countries saw the event moved to South America, where it has been held since – and has lost none of its original appeal.
All this makes the Dakar Rally a unique challenge for man and machine. Unlike rallies such as those in the World Rally Championship (WRC), this marathon rally does not take place on designated, blocked-off roads and routes, but on open, largely unmarked terrain. Each entrant must first and foremost rely on his/her driving skills.
The X-raid team which won the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2012 when Stéphane Peterhansel at the wheel of the powerful MINI ALL4 Racing claimed his tenth overall victory. A year later, the Frenchman returned to successfully defend his title - again in a MINI ALL4 Racing - for his 11th overall title.
The competitors must complete up to 800 kilometres per day – a nerve-wracking, two-week marathon, during which the organisers only allow the drivers one rest day. No wonder more than 50% of entrants retire from the Dakar Rally each year. Whatever happens, every day will be an exciting day once the Dakar Rally gets underway again in January 2014.
Find out more about the X-raid team here.
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