January 5th saw the start of the 2013 edition of the Dakar Rally. This famous rally pushes both drivers and their vehicles to the limit along a 8,000 km route which is known for its harsh conditions. The race is also unique in that amatures mix with professionals and make up over three quarters of the participants.
The race was founded as the Paris to Dakar rally in December 1978 by Thierry Sabine and involved just under 200 competitors, over a 10,000 km route that year. Over the next 30 years the race grew in popularity and the course itself changed, but maintained its presence in Africa until 2008. In 2008, the rally left the African and European continents when the event was cancelled due to security concerns around potential terrorist attacks.
Since 2009, the newly named ‘Dakar Rally’ has been run in South America. The 2013 edition will start in Lima, Peru enter Argentina mid way through the route and end in Santiago, Chile on January 19th.
There are four major competitive groups in the rally, motorcycle class, quad class, car class and the truck class along with associated subclasses within each.
The vehicles themselves are largely purpose built or heavily modified versions of existing models, nonetheless the rally provides a good testing ground due to it’s extreme conditions. Many manufacturers over the years have sponsored and tested their vehicles or parts and technology during the rally.
The following are some interesting figures from this year’s event:
53: the number of nationalities represented on the 2013 Dakar. It is a total record since the
rally’s creation in 1978.
40: the number of quad bikes entered, a record.
19: the age of rally’s youngest competitor, Robert Van Pelt Jr (The Netherlands,
71: the age of rally’s oldest competitor, Francisco Claudio Regunaschi (Argentina, car)
1,700: the total number of competitors expected in the rally, the race or the assistance
In addition, it is expected that there will be 1 billion viewers of the event this year along with 4.5 million spectators along the route, making it a truly global event.
Overall rankings at stage 4 are:
Bike – Olivier PAIN (FRA)
Quad – Marcos PATRONELLI (ARG)
Car – Stéphane PETERHANSEL (FRA)
Truck – Ales LOPRAIS (CZE)
…and the following provides a summary of all the action during stage 4 of the Dakar.