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Paris-Dakar Rally

"Paris-Dakar Rally" redirects here. For the video game, see Paris-Dakar Rally (video game).
Dakar Rally
Category Rally raid
Country Europe and Africa (1979–2007)
South America (2009–present)
Inaugural season 1979
Drivers 362
Drivers' champion France Cyril Despres (Bikes)
Argentina Marcos Patronelli (ATV/Quads)
France Stéphane Peterhansel (Cars)
Russia Eduard Nikolaev (Trucks)
Constructors' champion KTM (Bikes)
Yamaha (ATV/Quads)
Mini (Cars)
Kamaz (Trucks)
Official website
Current season

The Dakar Rally (or simply "The Dakar"; formerly known as "The Paris–Dakar" or "Paris to Dakar Rally") is an annual off-road race. Part of the Dakar Series, it is organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America (Argentina and Chile).[1] It has been held in South America each year since 2009.[2][3] The race is open to amateur and professional entries, amateurs typically making up about eighty percent of the participants.

Despite its 'rally' name, it is an off-road endurance race, properly called a 'rally raid' rather than a conventional rally. The terrain that the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified on-road vehicles used in rallies. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and erg among others. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres (500–560 mi) per day.

History and route

The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and decided that it 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, has varied over the years. Dakar has been the destination city on all but four occasions during the period the rally was held in Africa (i.e., prior to 2009). The event started from Paris every year from 1979 to 1994, and also in 1998 and 2001. In 1994 the rally both began and ended in Paris but, due to complaints by the mayor, the finish had to be moved from the Champs-Élysées to Disneyland Paris. This also caused the organisation to lay out the rally through different locations in following years.

Complete list of routes

In 1992, Hubert Auriol won the Dakar in an automobile after having previously won the motorcycle competition on two occasions, making him the first driver to win on both two and four wheels. Twelve years later, Stéphane Peterhansel managed the same feat. In 2001, Jutta Kleinschmidt became the first woman to win the car competition, driving a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero, with fellow German Andreas Schulz as her co-driver.

Until the 2008 terrorist attacks, rallies had been passing through Morocco, Western Sahara, and on to the grasslands and deserts of Mauritania. Segments running through Atar and the sand dunes and canyons of Mauritania's Adrar Region are among the most challenging in all off-road racing. The Mauritania terrorist attacks spelled the end of North Africa as the rally's host region.

The 2008 Dakar Rally was canceled on January 4, 2008, amid fears of terrorist attacks. This caused serious doubts over the future of the rally. Various newspapers in Africa called the cancellation a "death sentence" for the race. Chile and Argentina offered to host the event, along with the Czech Republic,[8] or Hungary[9] in Central Europe. The ASO finally decided to establish the Dakar Series competition, whose first event was the 2008 Central Europe Rally (Hungary-Romania), between April 20 and April 26, 2008. The 2009 event was held in Chile and Argentina, between January 3 and January 18, 2009.[10] The competition has remained in South America ever since.[3][11]

Vehicles and classes

The three major competitive groups in the Dakar are the motorcycle (moto) class (including quadbikes as one of the sub-classes), the car class, (which ranges from buggies to small SUVs) and the truck class. 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 or purpose built.

Moto class

The Moto class is divided between three groups. Group 1 is Marathon, which are mildly modified production motorcycles, subdivided between engines of greater and less than 451 cc (28 cu in).[12] Group 2 is Super-Production bikes, which are more substantially modified than Marathon bikes, subdivided between engines of greater and less than 451 cc.[12] Group 3 for quads, subdivided between engines of greater and less than 500 cc.[12]

From 2012, the two-wheeled motorcycles are limited to 450cc.

Winning motorcycles include those made by Honda, KTM, Yamaha and BMW.

Car class—T1, T2 and Open

The car class is made up of vehicles weighing less than 3,500 kg (7,716 lb) and subdivided into several categories. The T1 Group is made up of Improved Cross Country Vehicles and the T2 Group is made up of Cross Country Series Production vehicles.[13] The Open class accepts weight-qualifying vehicles such as SCORE International trucks.[13]

Originally, European utility vehicles like the Renault 4, Land Rover Defender, Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz G, Volkswagen Iltis and the Pinzgauer, as well the Japanese Toyota Land Cruiser Cygnus, dominated the race. Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero is the most successful model in race history, including 7 years straight (2001–2007). Other manufacturers have entered heavily modified street vehicles such as Rolls-Royce, Citroën, Peugeot (405 T16 and 205 T16) and Porsche.

In 2003, prominent examples in the Car Class included the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero, the Volkswagen Race Touareg, the Bowler Wildcat 200 and the Nissan Navara, as well as the Mercedes Benz M and a range of BMW X Models, such as the BMW X6, BMW X5 and BMW X3. Hummer H1 and Hummer H3 sport-utilities were also represented, but did not appear in the leader positions.

Jean-Louis Schlesser built a series of custom dune buggy vehicles for the race and has won with them several times. American ("Baja") style pro trucks have also made appearances, but they have seldom won.

Truck class—T4 and T5

The Truck class, also known as "Camions" or "Lorries", is made up of vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kg (7,716 lb).[14] They are divided into two groups, T4 and T5.

T4 class trucks participate in the competition, while T5 trucks are rally support trucks, which means they travel from bivouac to bivouac to support the competition vehicles.[14] T4 trucks may provide assistance during the special stages, but must be homologated vehicles. The T4.1 class covers production trucks, and the T4.2 class covers modified trucks.[15]

T5 class trucks do not have to be homologated.[14]

The T4 class has been composed of vehicles manufactured by Tatra, LIAZ, Kamaz, Hino, MAN, DAF, Mercedes-Benz, Unimog, Renault Kerax, SCANIA, IVECO, and GINAF. 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, and Kamaz took the race up. After 2000, renewed competition started in the truck class between DAF, Tatra, Mercedes-Benz and Kamaz.

List of winners

Year Route Cars Motorcycles Trucks Quads
Make & model Rider Make & model Driver Make & model Rider Make & model
2013 Lima
France Stéphane Peterhansel
France Jean-Paul Cottret
Mini All 4 Racing France Cyril Despres KTM 450 Rally Russia Eduard Nikolaev Kamaz Argentina Marcos Patronelli Yamaha
2012 Mar del Plata
France Stéphane Peterhansel
France Jean-Paul Cottret
Mini All 4 Racing France Cyril Despres KTM 450 Rally Netherlands Gérard de Rooy Iveco PowerStar Argentina Alejandro Patronelli Yamaha Raptor 700
2011 Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Qatar Nasser Al-Attiyah
Germany Timo Gottschalk
Volkswagen Touareg 3 Spain Marc Coma KTM 450 Rally Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Argentina Alejandro Patronelli Yamaha
2010 Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Spain Carlos Sainz
Spain Lucas Cruz
Volkswagen Touareg 2 France Cyril Despres KTM 690 Rally Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Argentina Marcos Patronelli Yamaha
2009 Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
South Africa Giniel de Villiers
Germany Dirk von Zitzewitz
Volkswagen Touareg 2 Spain Marc Coma KTM 690 Rally Russia Firdaus Kabirov Kamaz Czech Republic Josef Macháček Yamaha
2008 Not Held
2007 LisbonDakar France Stéphane Peterhansel
France Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero France Cyril Despres KTM 690 Rally Netherlands Hans Stacey MAN
2006 LisbonDakar France Luc Alphand
France Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero Spain Marc Coma KTM LC4 660R Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz
2005 BarcelonaDakar France Stéphane Peterhansel
France Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero France Cyril Despres KTM LC4 660R Russia Firdaus Kabirov Kamaz
2004 Clermont-Ferrand
France Stéphane Peterhansel
France Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero Spain Nani Roma KTM LC4 660R Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz
2003 Marseille
Sharm el Sheikh
Japan Hiroshi Masuoka
Germany Andreas Schulz
Mitsubishi Pajero France Richard Sainct KTM LC4 660R Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz
2002 ArrasMadrid
Japan Hiroshi Masuoka
France Pascal Maimon
Mitsubishi Pajero Italy Fabrizio Meoni KTM LC8 950R Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz
2001 ParisDakar Germany Jutta Kleinschmidt
Germany Andreas Schulz
Mitsubishi Pajero Italy Fabrizio Meoni KTM LC4 660R Czech Republic Karel Loprais Tatra
2000 ParisDakarCairo France Jean-Louis Schlesser
Andorra Henri Magne
Schlesser-Renault Buggy France Richard Sainct BMW F650RR Russia Vladimir Chagin Kamaz
1999 GranadaDakar France Jean-Louis Schlesser
France Philippe Monnet
Schlesser-Renault Buggy France Richard Sainct BMW F650RR Czech Republic Karel Loprais Tatra
1998 ParisGranada
France Jean-Pierre Fontenay
France Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Czech Republic Karel Loprais Tatra
1997 DakarAgades
Japan Kenjiro Shinozuka
Andorra Henri Magne
Mitsubishi Pajero France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Austria Peter Reif Hino
1996 GranadaDakar France Pierre Lartigue
France Michel Perin
Citroën ZX Italy Edi Orioli Yamaha YZE850T Russia Viktor Moskovskikh Kamaz
1995 GranadaDakar France Pierre Lartigue
France Michel Perin
Citroën ZX France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Czech Republic Karel Loprais Tatra
1994 ParisDakarParis France Pierre Lartigue
France Michel Perin
Citroën ZX Italy Edi Orioli Cagiva Elefant 900 Czech Republic Karel Loprais Tatra
1993 ParisDakar France Bruno Saby
France Dominique Seriyes
Mitsubishi Pajero France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Italy Francesco Perlini Perlini
1992 ParisSirte
Cape Town
France Hubert Auriol
France Philippe Monnet
Mitsubishi Pajero France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Italy Francesco Perlini Perlini
1991 ParisTripoli
Finland Ari Vatanen
Sweden Bruno Berglund
Citroën ZX France Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE750T France Jacques Houssat Perlini
1990 ParisTripoli
Finland Ari Vatanen
Sweden Bruno Berglund
Peugeot 405 T16 Italy Edi Orioli Cagiva Elefant 900 Italy Giorgio Villa Perlini
1989 ParisTunisDakar Finland Ari Vatanen
Sweden Bruno Berglund
Peugeot 405 T16 France Gilles Lalay Honda NXR800V
1988 ParisAlgerDakar Finland Juha Kankkunen
Finland Juha Piironen
Peugeot 205 T16 Italy Edi Orioli Honda NXR800V Czechoslovakia Karel Loprais Tatra
1987 ParisAlgerDakar Finland Ari Vatanen
France Bernard Giroux
Peugeot 205 T16 France Cyril Neveu Honda NXR750V Netherlands Jan de Rooy DAF
1986 ParisAlgerDakar France René Metge
France Dominique Lemoyne
Porsche 959 France Cyril Neveu Honda NXR750V Italy Giacomo Vismara Mercedes-Benz
1985 ParisAlgerDakar France Patrick Zaniroli
France Jean Da Silva
Mitsubishi Pajero Belgium Gaston Rahier BMW R100GS Germany Karl-Friedrich Capito Mercedes-Benz
1984 ParisAlgerDakar France René Metge
France Dominique Lemoyne
Porsche 911 Belgium Gaston Rahier BMW R100GS France Pierre Lalleu Mercedes-Benz
1983 ParisAlgerDakar Belgium Jacky Ickx
France Claude Brasseur
Mercedes 280 G France Hubert Auriol BMW R100GS France Georges Groine Mercedes-Benz
1982 ParisAlgerDakar France Claude Marreau
France Bernard Marreau
Renault 20 France Cyril Neveu Honda XR550 France Georges Groine Mercedes-Benz
1981 ParisDakar France René Metge
France Bernard Giroux
Range Rover France Hubert Auriol BMW R80G/S France Adrien Villette ALM/ACMAT
1980 ParisDakar Sweden Freddy Kottulinsky
Germany Gerd Löffelmann
Volkswagen Iltis France Cyril Neveu Yamaha XT500 Algeria Ataouat Sonacome
1979 ParisDakar France Alain Génestier
France Joseph Terbiaut
Range Rover France Cyril Neveu Yamaha XT500


Stage winners

As of January 11, 2013


Rank Driver Stages
1 Finland Ari Vatanen 50
2 Belgium Jacky Ickx 29
2 France Stéphane Peterhansel 29
4 Spain Carlos Sainz 25
4 Japan Hiroshi Masuoka 25


Rank Rider Stages
1 France Stéphane Peterhansel 33
2 France Cyril Despres 29
3 Spain Jordi Arcarons 27
4 France Hubert Auriol 24
5 Spain Marc Coma 21


Since 1999

Rank Driver Stages
1 Russia Vladimir Chagin 63
2 Russia Firdaus Kabirov 37
3 Netherlands Gérard de Rooy 23
4 Czech Republic Karel Loprais 16
5 Netherlands Hans Stacey 11


Since 2009

Rank Rider Stages
1 Argentina Marcos Patronelli 15
2 Argentina Alejandro Patronelli 10
3 France Christophe Declerck 6
3 Argentina Tomas Maffei 6
5 Czech Republic Josef Macháček 5

Source: History of Dakar – Retrospective 1979–2007

Television coverage

Over 190 different countries take the international feed of the event with a roundup of every day being made into a 26-minute programme. This has been commentated on by Toby Moody for ten years, but Ben Constanduros speaks on the 2011 edition.

The organisers provide 20 edit stations for various countries to produce their own programmes. There are four TV helicopters, six stage cameras and three bivouac crews to make over 1,000 hours of TV over the two-week period. In the United States, coverage can be seen on the Versus network (now the NBC Sports Network).

A television documentary Race to Dakar described the experiences of a team including the actor Charley Boorman in preparation for and entry into the 2006 Dakar Rally.

According to Gert Vermersch, the media coverage of the Dakar rally, particularly in Europe has been decreasing. This has been triggered by the fact that the new South-American edition of the race has proven to be less spectacular, at least in regards to the scenery as the original edition.[16]


In 1982, Mark Thatcher, son of the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, along with his French co-driver Anne-Charlotte Verney and their mechanic, disappeared 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 Lockheed L100 search plane from the Algerian military spotted their white Peugeot 504 some 50 km (30 mi) off course. Thatcher, Verney and the mechanic were all unharmed.

The organiser of the rally, Thierry Sabine, was killed when his Ecureuil helicopter crashed at 07:30 p.m. on Tuesday 14 January 1986, into a dune at Mali during a sudden sand-storm. Also killed onboard was the singer-songwriter Daniel Balavoine, helicopter pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and Jean-Paul Lefur who was a radiophonic engineer for RTL.[17]

Six people were killed during the 1988 race, three participants and three local residents. In one incident, Baye Sibi, a 10-year-old Malian girl, was killed by a racer while she crossed a road. A film crew's vehicle killed a mother and daughter in Mauritania on the last day of the race. The race participants killed, in three separate crashes, were a Dutch navigator on the DAF Trucks team, a French privateer, and a French rider. Racers were also blamed for starting a wildfire that caused a panic on a train running between Dakar and Bamako, where three more people were killed.[18]

In 2003 French driver Daniel Nebot both rolled and crashed his Toyota heavily at high speed killing his co-driver Bruno Cauvy.[19][20] In 2005, Spanish motorcyclist José Manuel Pérez 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 Pérez on January 11 on stage 11. Meoni was the 11th motorcyclist and the 45th person overall to die in the history of the race. On January 13, a five-year-old Senegalese girl was hit and killed by a service lorry after wandering onto a main road, bringing the total deaths to five.

In 2006, 41-year-old Australian KTM motorcyclist Andy Caldecott, in his third time in the Dakar, died January 9 as a result of neck injuries sustained in a crash approximately 250 km (155 mi) into stage 9, between Nouakchott and Kiffa, only a few kilometers from the location where Meoni had his fatal wreck the year before. He won the third stage of the 2006 event between Nador and Er Rachidia only a few days before his death. The death occurred despite efforts by the event organisers to improve competitor safety, including limiting speed, mandatory rest at fuel stops, and reduced fuel capacity requirements for the bike classes. On January 13, a 10-year-old boy died while crossing the course after being hit by a car driven by Latvian Māris Saukāns, while on January 14 a 12-year-old boy was killed after being hit by a support lorry.[21]

In 2007, 29-year-old South African motor racer Elmer Symons died of injuries sustained in a crash during the fourth stage of the Rally. Symons crashed with his bike in the desert between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, Morocco.[22] Another death occurred on January 20, the night before the race's finish, when 42-year-old motorcyclist Eric Aubijoux died suddenly. The cause of death was initially believed to be a heart attack,[23] however it was later suggested that Aubijoux died of internal injuries sustained in a crash earlier that day while competing in the 14th stage of the race.

The 2008 Dakar Rally was cancelled due to security concerns after al-Qaeda's murder of four French tourists on Christmas Eve in December 2007 in Mauritania (a country in which the rally spends eight days), accusations against the rally calling it "neo-colonialist", and accusations against Mauritania calling it a supporter of "crusaders, apostates and infidels". The French-based Amaury Sport Organisation in charge of the 6,000-kilometre (3,700 mi) rally said in a statement that they had been advised by the French government to cancel the race which had been due to begin on January 5, 2008 from Lisbon. They said direct threats had also been made against the event by al-Qaeda related organisations.[24][25]

Omar Osama bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, attracted news coverage in 2008 by promoting himself as an "ambassador of peace" and proposing a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) horse race across North Africa as a replacement to the Dakar Rally, with sponsors' money going to support child victims of war, saying "I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida. I don't think they are going to stop me."[26]

On 7 January 2009, the body of 49-year-old motorcyclist Pascal Terry from France was found. He had been missing for three days and his body lay on a remote part of the second stage between Santa Rosa de la Pampa and Puerto Madryn.

On 4 January 2010, a woman watching the Dakar Rally was killed when a vehicle taking part in the race veered off the course and hit her during the opening stage.

On 1 January 2012, motorcyclist Jorge Martinez Boero of Argentina died after suffering a cardiac arrest after a fall. He was treated by medical staff within five minutes of the accident, but died on the way to hospital.

Overall about 60 people, including 25 competitors, have died in the Dakar Rally.


When the race was held in Africa, it was subject to criticism from several sources, generally focusing on the race's impact on the inhabitants of the African countries through which it passed.

Some African residents along the race's course in previous years have said they saw limited benefits from the race; that race participants spent little money on the goods and services local residents can offer. The racers produced substantial amounts of dust along the course, and were blamed for hitting and killing livestock, in addition to occasionally injuring or killing people.[27]

After the 1988 race, when three Africans were killed in collisions with vehicles involved in the race, PANA, a Dakar-based news agency, wrote that the deaths were "insignificant for the [race's] organisers". The Vatican City newspaper L'Osservatore Romano called the race a "vulgar display of power and wealth in places where men continue to die from hunger and thirst."[28] During a 2002 protest at the race's start in Arras, France, a Green Party of France statement described the race as "colonialism that needs to be eradicated".[29]

The rally was criticised before 2000 for crossing through the disputed territory of Western Sahara, without the approval of the Polisario Front, which considers itself the representative of the Sahrawi people. After the race officials gained formal permission from the Polisario from 2000 onwards this ceased to be an issue.

The environmental impact of the race has been another area of criticism. This criticism of the race is notably the topic of the song "500 connards sur la ligne de départ" ("500 Assholes at the Starting Line"), on the album Marchand de cailloux by French singer Renaud. According to recent figures provided by the Dakar Rally, the carbon emissions of the two-week race are approximately equivalent to a Formula One race.[30]

Rally cars may destroy or stunt the growth of plants which fixate the soil, particularly in sandy regions. Due to the eroding action of the vehicles on the predetermined track (which can destroy plants and loosens the soil), it may promote desertification in the ribbon of land they race on.[31][32]


See also


External links

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