The race dubbed the most difficult and dangerous race on earth is about the begin. Welcome to the 40th Edition of the Dakar Rally taking place in South America for the 10th straight year. By Christophe Barriere-Varju (Dream Racer)
At the start of the 2018 Dakar Rally, there will be 335 competitors including 139 bikes, 49 quads, 92 cars, 11 SxS, and 44 almighty trucks. At the end of day one, attrition and heart breaks will commence, and by the end of the two weeks, only 50 to 60 % of the competitors will cross the finish line.
So what makes the Dakar Rally such a challenging event? It all starts prior to the race itself, the desire the compete in the Dakar Rally is common to most racers but only a fraction of them will have the will to do what it takes to receive their race number and compete.
How bad do you want it?
The budget to race the Dakar Rally is a tough pill to swallow. Motorbike racers will need between US$50,000 to US$100,000 to cover all the costs (privateer costs), new bike, entry fee, mechanic, assistance truck, travel, cash, parts so on and so forth.
Here is how you can differentiate from the different riders, and appreciate their efforts differently:
- Factory Rider – You get paid to perform, you get paid to train, you get paid to represent your sponsors in the best possible light;
- Semi-Factory Rider – You get the machinery and ‘most of the special parts’ but you need to bring your sponsors and sometimes personal funds to cover some additional costs;
- Sponsored Privateer – You are part of a team or on your own, but your costs are covered by your sponsors. Your bike will be plastered in their colors and you will be a walking billboard. You may have a mechanic or you may choose to take the ‘Malle-Moto’ category and be your own mechanic;
- Privateer – All self-funded, you have used up your savings, the only stickers you will see are a few sponsors from companies and friends / family that have kindly jumped in to be part of your adventure and help you a little. You may have a mechanic if you managed to find enough money to cover the costs or you may choose to take the ‘Malle-Moto’ category and be your own mechanic.
The last bullet point, a self-funded privateer without the support of a mechanic is definitely the toughest challenge. Many factory racers when asked if they would consider doing the Dakar Rally like this, have this nervous laugh and would kindly decline.
The importance of that first briefing
“Yes, this year will be harder than the previous years” – whether true or false, this statement will twist your stomach a little, it is meant to make cocky and over-confident racers a little more humble in their approach of the race.
The Dakar will humble you, it may not humble you in your first or second participation, but it will humble you. The stats are here to prove it!
Across the 14 days, you will see your friends hurt, leave in stretchers or helicopters, you will see scenes you wish you had never seen. You might even be ‘the one’ to leave the race too early – and it really does not take much for this to happen “if you don’t understand the race, if you don’t understand how the stages are composed and stacked up in order to test you and potentially break your spirit.”
So be humble, and pay attention to all the little details mentioned in the first briefing. Every bit of information counts. The Dakar Rally is an attrition race, it is a strategy, it is about physical, emotional and mental rhythm, it is is about avoiding costly mistakes that could end up tragically.
Then as soon as the first briefing is finished, you get out of there, no chit chat, the race does not start tomorrow on stage one, the race against time begins NOW. Every minute of additional sleep counts NOW. In the Dakar Rally, every minute is not to be wasted.
Let the Dakar Rally Race Begin!