UPDATE: Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th December. Closed. Unfortunately torrential rain has now made the tracks too wet.

Dakar Rally

History

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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). It has been held in South America each year since 2009.

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.

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

1979–1980: Paris–Dakar
1981–1988: Paris–Algiers–Dakar
1989: Paris–Tunis–Dakar
1990–1991: Paris–Tripoli–Dakar
1992: Paris–Cape Town
1993: Paris–Dakar
1994: Paris–Dakar–Paris
1995–1996: Granada–Dakar
1997: Dakar–Agadez–Dakar
1998: Paris–Granada–Dakar
1999: Granada–Dakar
2000: Dakar–Cairo
2001: Paris–Dakar
2002: Arras–Madrid–Dakar
2003: Marseille–Sharm el-Sheikh
2004: Clermont-Ferrand–Dakar
2005: Barcelona–Dakar
2006–2008: Lisbon–Dakar[4]
2009: Buenos Aires–Valparaíso–Buenos Aires[5]
2010: Buenos Aires–Antofagasta–Buenos Aires[6]
2011: Buenos Aires–Arica–Buenos Aires[7]
2012: Mar del Plata–Copiapó–Lima
2013: Lima–Tucumán–Santiago

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, or Hungary 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. The competition has remained in South America since then.

 
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