The Long Hard Slog - Dakar 2013
So another year has passed and it's that time again when teams from across the world finally put all their preparations into action, the dawn of the Dakar. Known for being one of the world's toughest races this gruelling charge through deserts and wilderness is a spectacle like no other.
In its 30 year history the Dakar has travelled over different countries and continents. Originally thought up by the racer Thierry Sabine at a time when he got lost in the desert, the rally started life in 1979 travelling from Paris to Dakar with a short break to cross the Mediterranean. Dakar has been the destination city on all but four occasions when the rally was held in Africa. Since 2009 the rally has been held in South America, moving due to political and safety reasons but it has kept the iconic name.
The Dakar is divided into three classes of vehicles. Motorcycles, cars and Trucks, each of these is divided into different groups depending on the specification of the machine, production, modified etc. Since 2012 the engine size for motorbikes has been restricted to 450cc. Winning motorcycle manufacturers include Honda, KTM, Yamaha and BMW. Over the last ten years KTM have been dominant.
This years Dakar is said to be one of the toughest yet covering over 8,000 kilometres through Peru, Argentina and Chile. Competitors will travel this distance over 14 days with each day having a certain number of km to cover (a section). Sections can vary in size and difficulty with terrain varying from dunes to rock. The key to this years Dakar is said to be flexibility with riders and drivers most able to adapt to the different conditions coming out on top. But of course one of the most important things when tackling the Dakar is the ability to endure.
Already the motorbike class is hotting up after three times winner Marc Coma has pulled out due to an injury picked up in a rally in Morocco in October. He and fellow KTM Factory team member Cyril Despres have dominated the last seven Dakar Rallies. So does this open the competition up for others to make a dent at KTM's reign or will Despres power through to yet another victory?
It all kicks off on the 5th of January in South America. Coverage and highlights can be seen on Eurosport and the Dakar official website is a great place to pick up the latest news and stories from the desert. Best of luck to all involved, have a great race!
04.01.13 - James Davey