Dakar Rally 2019
It nearly a week since the flag dropped for the world’s most gruelling rally with the entire routes running inside the border of Peru for 2019. A total of 334 vehicles are expected to take part in, all of which share the same goal that is coming back to the capital after more than 3100 miles of pure, hardcore driving (with an extra 1860 miles of special stages).
Navigating through such open terrains without deviation and having the raw physical strength to cope with the race are key attributes all contestants must have to succeed. Due to the enormous magnitude of the event and immense preparation required, premature withdrawal is very disappointing. This year though has a little difference, racers who fall out in the opening half of the rally will have the chance to re-join the race but in a separate classification. They won’t have the opportunity to start in the first 25 places for the special stage, but it’ll give racers a welcome opportunity to drive again.
The car class comprises of several sub-classifications, but all are confined to a load of less than 3500kg. Categories for each car are classified based on their fuel type, driven wheels and overall vehicle model. The field is usually overwhelmed by all-wheel-drive cars.
This year, Ssangyong has announced it will use an all-new model for the race with the V8-powered, 450bhp Rexton DKR falling into the T1-3 class for the rear wheel-drive petrol-powered cars. Toyota Gazoo Racing has made its Hilux return to the rally, a vehicle which has previously acclaimed five podium finishes. It offers a refined suspension set-up for sharper handling, more power from the engine and other various tweaks. Mitsubishi is entering the race with a T1 class Mitsubishi Eclipse, built around a steel frame chassis with a carbon fibre body. It sports a turbo-diesel engine generating around 340bhp and 505ft lb of torque.
The rally is not just for cars, with trucks, bikes and quads showing up as well. Two categories of truck are allowed, with every category featuring various levels of alterations. Bikes are constrained to under 450cc and come in two different forms: “Marathon” spec is designed for manufacturers, and “Super Production” is for modified bikes. With quad bikes, you can run on two or four-wheel drive, but it must be under 500cc.
In recent years, Mini has acclaimed the most victories. However, Mitsubishi is historically the most successful car-maker in the class overall, with Volkswagen, Citroen, Peugeot and Porsche all having had victories in the past as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Is The Dakar Rally?
The 2019 Dakar Rally comprises of 10 stages having more than 3100 miles with an extra 1860 miles for special stages, coming to a total of almost 5000 miles.
Is It Safe For Spectators?
Organisers say safety of everyone, who are involved in the race, is their most primary concern and that everything is done to uttermost to ensure risks being kept to absolute minimum. They amend and enhance safety procedures every year. Spectators will have chances view the occasion from 30 different “secure zones” along the course, with 9000 security staff in attendance.
How Dangerous Is The Dakar Rally?
Unfortunately, this kind of motorsport of over 41 years running has seen 70 people, including 28 competitors, lost their lives. Hopefully, this year with the advancement of safety and communication technology, the rally would not see any tragedies. Speed is now limited, asking participants for resting at fuel stops is mandatory and reducing fuel capacity for the bike classes are examples of how organisers have changed the event over the years in order for it still being as interesting as it was in the past but its safety is at absolute maximum.
Dakar Rally History
Left in awe in the Libyan desert during a 1977 race from Abidjan to Nice, Thierry Sabine wanted to return there with a rally of his own. He induced 182 contenders to sign up for the inaugural Paris Dakar Rally in 1979 and join along him on a 6,000-mile venture, passing through five nations over two continents. The race started in Paris, France and finished in Dakar, Senegal.
While the eponymous start and finish points were fixed for Paris Dakar rallies up until 1992, the routes often changed. From 1993, the start and finish locations varied as well, with South Africa, Spain and Portugal all featuring in the race. Africa constantly established the majority of the routes up until 2008. In that year, a terrorist attacked in Mauritania, forcing organisers to cancel the rally as the routes were planned passing through that nation. Since then, the “Dakar Rally” has been held in South America.
Mitsubishi has turned into the most successful car manufacturer in Dakar history with twelve wins, double that of Peugeot, who has the second most. Stephane Peterhansel is the most decorated Dakar driver and rider in history with thirteen victories. His first win came with a Yamaha in 1991, before he went on to win more titles with Nissan, Mitsubishi, BMW, Mini and Peugeot.