Monday, 12 January 2015

The 2015 Dakar Rally; What you need to know.

Featuring 9,000 gruelling kilometres across some
of the most challenging terrain in the world, the
Dakar Rally is without doubt one of the toughest
races out there. You only have to look at the many
amazing pictures to grasp an understanding of just
how cool it is.
First run in 1978, the Dakar Rally was originally a
race from Paris to, as the name suggests, Dakar in
Senegal. However after the 2008 event was
cancelled following a security threat in the African
country of Mauritania, the rally moved to South
America and is now held across Argentina, Chile
and Bolivia in January each year.
It might be called a ‘rally’ but the Dakar is really
an off-road endurance race featuring the toughest
prototype off-road bikes in the world.
Taking place over thirteen stages in a two week
period with hundreds of competitors, the Dakar can
be quite complex to get your head around so
we’ve pulled together a beginner’s guide with all
you need to know…

The Dakar route varies each year, so don’t think
that if you can learn the route this year you’ll be
all set for 2016. There is an allocated route, but
it’s not the cordoned-off track you might expect to
find at other rally events. Navigation is part of the
challenge of Dakar; if you get lost you lose
significant time.
In total there are thirteen stages, which take place
over fourteen days including a rest day. Each stage
features both a ‘Road Section’ and a ‘Selective
Section’. The road sections, as the name suggests,
mainly follows the road networks as competitors
travel, untimed, between the selective sections and
the bivouac accommodation.
The selective sections, commonly known as
special stages, are the competitive timed element
of the event. These stages are largely off-road and
involve a variety of challenging terrains, from
mountain sides to sand dunes and swamps.
The stages vary in length, with the shortest
covering 393 kilometres and the longest over
1,000km. The specials within each stage also vary
in distance, with the shortest special stage at
174km and the longest an exhausting 518km.
This year’s route forms a loop with both the start
point and finish in Argentina’s Capital, Buenos
Aires. The furthest point from the Argentinian
capital is the Chilean city of Iquique.

Each of the thirteen special stages are timed and
the winner is the rider who completes all of the
thirteen specials in the shortest amount of time. At
the end of each stage, riders rest for the evening in
the Bivouac while their crew work on their bikes.
Two stages are chunked together as a Marathon
stage, meaning there is only one winner for the
two stages and overnight the riders are allowed no
support from their crews. In fact, they stay alone
with their bikes and only their riding team mates
can help with any issues. This year’s marathon
stage for motorcycles takes place between 14th
and 15th January.

As previously mentioned, the bikes used for the
Dakar Rally are off-road prototypes developed by
manufacturers particularly for events like this. As
of 2014, the bikes may be powered by single or
twin cylinder engines up limited to a capacity of
KTM has dominated the event recently. The
factory, Red Bull supported outfit has been
unbeaten since the turn of the millennium. Honda
and Yamaha field strong factory efforts against the
boys in orange but are yet to finish higher than
second. Yamaha hasn’t won a Dakar since 1998
and it’s been some 25 years since Honda’s last

Favourite for this year’s Dakar is KTM’s four time
winner Marc Coma. The Spaniard took victory in
last year’s Dakar to mark his third win of the
South American era.
Honda’s effort is led by Spaniard Joan Barreda,
who won an impressive five stages in last year’s
Rally before a crash saw ruled him out of the battle
for victory. Barreda is one of the most promising
riders in the Dakar but his nickname ‘Bang Bang’
didn’t arise without reason.
Many are touting Britain’s Sam Sunderland for
success in this year’s event. After a strong 2014
rally, including his debut stage victory, the Dubai
resident moves to the factory Red Bull KTM outfit
this year. However, with Dakar King Marc Coma as
his team mate – he won’t be the team’s number
one priority.
After the defection of Dakar legend Cyril Depres to
the four-wheeled category, Yamaha have pinned
their hopes on 2014 third-placed man Olivier Pain.
The Frenchman’s Dakar history has been blighted
through injury and crashes, but he’s finished in the
top ten for the last three consecutive years.
Keep an eye out for friend of Bike Social, Simon
Pavey as he takes on the 2015 Dakar with his son
Llewellyn for the first time!

Culled from


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