Paris Dakar Rally

The Paris Dakar Rally (or simply "The Dakar") is an annual professional off-road race, currently sponsored by Total S.A. and organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation.

Despite its name, it is an off-road endurance race rather than a conventional rally – the terrain the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified sedans used in rallies. Most of the competitive sections ("stages" or "specials") are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, erg, among others. The distances covered vary from several kilometers to several hundred kilometers per day.

There is also a Plymouth-Dakar Challenge, organized by an entirely different group of people and restricted to vehicles which cost their owners less than 100, with 15 allowed for "race" preparation. It is jokingly said that the vehicles used here are mostly held together with duct tape.


History and route

The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and he decided this would be a good location for a regular rally. Originally, the rally was from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, interrupted by a transfer across the Mediterranean; however due to politics and other factors, the course, including origin and destination, have been varied over the years.

The last route from Paris to Dakar was organised in 1994; this was also the only time the rally went from Paris to Dakar and back to Paris. Due to complaints of the mayor of Paris, the finish had to be moved from the Champs-lyses to Euro Disney. This also caused the organisation to lay out the rally through differing locations in the years to follow:

Early rallies also passed through Algeria.

Vehicles and classes

The three major competitive classes of the Dakar are motorcycles, automobiles (ranging from buggies to small trucks) and large trucks. Many vehicle manufacturers exploit the harsh environment the rally offers as a testing ground, and consequently to demonstrate the durability of their vehicles, although most vehicles are heavily modified.

Originally, mostly European utility vehicles such as Land Rover, Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Mercedes Gelndewagen and Pinzgauer dominated the race; other manufacturers entered heavily modified street vehicles such as Rolls Royce, Citron and even Porsche. As of 2002, examples in the car class include Mitsubishi (Pajero/Montero), Nissan, and Hyundai; Mercedes, Range Rover, and BMW sport-utilities are represented but do not appear in the leader positions. Jean-Louis Schlesser builds a series of custom dune buggy vehicles for the race, and has won with them several times. American ("Baja") style pro trucks make an appearance, but they are also seldom in the winner's circle.

Trucks (T4 "Camions" or "Lorries") include Tatra, Kamaz, Hino, MAN, DAF and Mercedes-Benz Unimog. In the 1980s, a strong rivalry between DAF and Mercedes-Benz led to vehicles which had twin engines and more than 1000 hp (750 kW). Later Tatra, Perlini and Kamaz took the race up.

KTM is the most popular and currently leading motorcycle. BMW also produces a "Dakar" enduro bike.

At the present, the main competitors in the car class are Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and Nissan, and in the motorcycle class are Yamaha Motor Corporation and KTM. After 2000, renewed competition started in the truck class between DAF, Tatra, Mercedes-Benz and Kamaz.


Television coverage

The English television coverage of the rally is narrated by Toby Moody, a retired motorcycle rider whose distinct accent (especially pronouncing foreign names such as "Schless-ah", "Shi-no-zoo-ker" and "Me-oh-nee") adds to the personality of the race.


In 1982, Mark Thatcher, son of the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, along with his French co-driver Charlotte Verney and their mechanic, went missing in for six days. On January 9, the trio became separated from a convoy of vehicles after they stopped to make repairs to a faulty steering arm. They were declared missing on January 12; after a large-scale search, a C130 Hercules search plane from the Algerian military spotted their white Peugeot 504 some 50km off course. Thatcher, Verney and the mechanic were all unharmed.

In 1986, the organiser of the rally, Thierry Sabine, died in a helicopter crash. It was one of the worst years in the history of the rally.

In 1988, the DAF truck, which went faster than the fastest cars of the day, crashed, killing one of the drivers, causing DAF to retire from the race.

In 2005, Spanish motorcyclist Jos Manuel Prez died in a Spanish hospital on Monday, January 10 after crashing the week before on the 7th stage. Italian motorcyclist Fabrizio Meoni, a two-time winner of the event, became the second Dakar Rally rider to die in two days, following Prez on January 11 on the 11th stage. Meoni was the 11th motorcyclist and the 45th competitor overall to die in the history of the race. On January 13, a five-year-old Senegalese girl was crushed beneath the wheels of a service lorry after wandering onto a main road, bringing the total deaths to five.

List of winners

Year 4-Wheel 2-Wheel Route
Driver Co-Driver Nationality Manufacturer Driver Nationality Manufacturer
2005PeterhanselCottretFranceMitsubishiDespresFranceKTMBarcelona - Dakar
2004PeterhanselCottretFranceMitsubishiRomaSpainKTMClermont-Ferrand - Dakar
2003MasuokaSchulzJapanMitsubishiSainctFranceKTMMarseille - Sharm el Sheikh
2002MasuokaMaimonJapanMitsubishiMeoniItalyKTMArras - Madrid - Dakar
2001KleinschmidtSchulzGermanyMitsubishiMeoniItalyKTMParis - Dakar
2000SchlesserMagneFranceRenaultSainctFranceBMWParis - Dakar - Cairo
1999SchlesserMonnetFranceRenaultSainctFranceBMWGranada - Dakar
1998FontenayPicardFranceMitsubishiPeterhanselFranceYamahaParis - Granada - Dakar
1997ShinozukaMagneJapanMitsubishiPeterhanselFranceYamahaDakar - Agades - Dakar
1996LartiguePerinFranceCitronOrioliItalyYamahaGranada - Dakar
1995LartiguePerinFranceCitronPeterhanselFranceYamahaGranada - Dakar
1994LartiguePerinFranceCitronOrioliItalyCagivaParis - Dakar - Paris
1993SabySeriyesFranceMitsubishiPeterhanselFranceYamahaParis - Dakar
1992AuriolMonnetFranceMitsubishiPeterhanselFranceYamahaParis - Sirte - Le Cap
1991VatanenBerglundFinlandCitronPeterhanselFranceYamahaParis - Tripoli - Dakar
1990VatanenBerglundFinlandPeugeotOrioliItalyCagivaParis - Tripoli - Dakar
1989VatanenBerglundFinlandPeugeotLalayFranceHondaParis - Tunis - Dakar
1988KankkunenPiironenFinlandPeugeotOrioliItalyHondaParis - Alger - Dakar
1987VatanenGirouxFinlandPeugeotNeveuFranceHondaParis - Alger - Dakar
1986MetgeLemoyneFrancePorscheNeveuFranceHondaParis - Alger - Dakar
1985ZaniroliDa SilvaFranceMitsubishiRahierBelgiumBMWParis - Alger - Dakar
1984MetgeLemoyneFrancePorscheRahierBelgiumBMWParis - Alger - Dakar
1983IckxBrasseurBelgiumMercedesAuriolFranceBMWParis - Alger - Dakar
1982MarreauMarreauFranceRenaultNeveuFranceHondaParis - Alger - Dakar
1981MetgeGirouxFranceRange RoverAuriolFranceBMWParis - Dakar
1980KottulinskyLuffelmanSwedenVolkswagenNeveuFranceYamahaParis - Dakar
1979GenestierTerbiautFranceRange RoverNeveuFranceYamahaParis - Dakar

External links

de:Rallye Dakar fr:Rallye Dakar nl:Parijs-Dakar ja:パリ・ダカール・ラリー sv:Paris-Dakar-rallyt


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