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The Dakar Rally

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Just popping out for a spin dear!

The Dakar Rally, now in it’s thirtieth year, started it’s throbbing V8 engines on 3 January this year. No less that 540 teams from 50 countries are competing this year, which is bucking the current decline in motor sports.

Strictly speaking it isn’t the Dakar Rally at all, this year it doesn’t go anywhere near Dakar, or Africa or even Europe. This year the continent of South America plays host to this festival of revs, reaction time, and very real danger.


The current rally is divided into catagories. Bikes, Cars, All-Terrain Vehicles and Trucks all run their own stages.

The Dakar Rally is one of the most dangerous races in the world, claiming one dead and two seriously injured in this race alone (and we are only half way through!). The dead man was named as Pascal Terry (49) and the cause of death is unclear at this time. Terry was a Frenchman who was riding for the Gasgas Desert Team.

The big players at the minute are Marc Coma, current leader, who is riding for KTM Motorbikes. He is a previous winner of the Rally with his team Repsol KTM.



Meanwhile, on four wheels, Pole Position is held by Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Tina Thorner. They drive for BMW. Nasser is an interesting character, not only does he drive in the Production World Rally Championship, but he is also an Olympic class Clay-Pidgeon Shot.


In the larger vehicles Marcel Vanliet, Herman Vaanholt, and Gerard van Veenendaal take the lead in their GINAF Dutch truck. You can see their video footage here. Sorry, it’s in Dutch but you get the idea of what they are about.

Etappe 2 – MyVideo Nederland

The Dakar Rally has been going for over thirty years. It started it’s life as the Paris-Dakar rally in 1978, managed by the Amaury Sports Organisation. The rally has changed the route more times than a dodgy GPS, taking in Algiers, Tunis, Granada, and the middle east. The changes were necessary because the rally has raised many objections.

The Rally has taken in some of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the developing world. Some have accused it of parading wealth before the world’s poor. Others have condemned the harm it has done to the environment.


In spite of the risks the race has only ever been cancelled once, in 2008, sue to fears of attack by terrorists.
One famous incident involved Mark Thatcher (son of the former Prime Minister), who got separated from a convoy. He and his team were later found unharmed by the Algerian air force.

The fatalities have been never ending. A ten year old Malian girl, Baye Sibi, was killed under the wheels of a turch as she crossed the road. A mother and daughter were killed by a film crew truck on the last day of the race in 1988. The safety of non-participants in developing countries does not appear to be high priority to the organisers.

But the show does go on, and seems more popular and better organised every year.

For further information check out:


Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Posted in in the news

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