Dakar Rally 2018
Photo Courtesy of @World/N.Katikis

The start of the Dakar Rally is very complex for many reasons. Racers are still ‘a bit cold’ and not really in race mode yet. The few days prior to the start of the race are no holidays, especially if you are a privateer depending on a whole lot of yourself, and you can’t help to wonder “have I thought about everything before the Dakar Machine gets going?” By Christophe Barriere-Varju (Dream Racer)

Pick up

The few days prior to the race are really busy, you need to pick up your bike from customs, get together with your team if you have one, if you are a privateer you need to figure out a way to pack everything into these tiny boxes. And if it is your first time, try not to get overwhelmed by the cheer size of the event.

The administrative and technical checks is an event in itself. First the multiple administrative booth all racers must attend to, get your stamp, photo, medical check, insurance, things get real when the emergency beacon are installed on your bike and safety measures are explained.

Last Minute Dakar Rally Preparation

Last minute preparations for the two weeks Dakar Rally Odyssey is almost the last chance to get it right and make sure all the redundancy “bike fixing” tools and parts, and other secret bike adds-on are all there. You pull out these fancy new gears that will look nothing like that after a few days, so that you can be ready for that podium start.

But that’s not as important as……making sure you understand the first 3 days of the race!

Dakar Rally Race Strategy

How do you decide to start the race depends on the first 3 stages layouts. Dust and single tracks on the horizon, then you will want to be toward the front or be miserable not only eating dust but slowing destroying your engine swallowing powder dust.

Sand Dunes on the horizon, then the strategy is much different. Every year I love watching Stephane Peterhansel, he is truly the master of the Dakar Rally and there is so much to learn every year – the start of the 40th Edition of the Dakar Rally is no exception.

Stage 2 has a lot of dunes ahead and no dust. Sitting in a ‘comfortable’ 11th position after Stage 1, Peterhansel can let others navigate, make mistakes, assess their speed and ‘talent’ crossing sand dunes. He will be checking in on its competitor, watching them, watching the performance of their machine, all of this providing him valuable information for the following two weeks. All at the same time gaining time on them as it is much easier to be behind in sand dunes than to lead at the front.

Avoiding Day-1 Fatal Mistakes

Joaquim Rodrigues is a lucky man, his crash on Stage 1 could have been a lot worse than this. He is reported to have broken his 5th lumbar vertebrae but he is ok.

His crash could have been caused by many reasons:

  • Wrong goggle lens
  • Cloudy sky and high sun making the dunes extremely hard to read
  • Over-excited with the crowd cheering
  • Wrong danger or danger in road book that he had not highlighted
  • Wrong distance reading in road book

However, warning signs should have been:

  • Helicopter flying stationary
  • Crowd cheering with phone out
  • Crowd quickly disappearing behind the sand dunes

Unfortunately for Rodrigues, he is now out of the race after being evacuated to a hospital. Will he make the same mistake in future Dakar Rallyes, we bet not.

All racers should ease into the race, Stage 1 was very short, only 31 kms, nothing to be gained time-wise but plenty to lose.

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If you are a Dakar Rally fan, make sure to watch 9x Award Winner Film, DREAM RACER. Dream Racer is the only film in the Dakar History to have won any awards and it is the most awarded motorcycle film in history. Available on Blu-Ray or DVD, or you can watch it On Demand right away.


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