When someone hears or reads “Dakar”, he is likely to associate him with a very difficult race, or he relates to a capital of an African country, without remembering well that it is Senegal. This is the trademark that managed to capture the most important and dangerous rally in the world.
It is the first major sporting event of the year, in its thirty-eighth version of the competition, the eighth time it takes place on Argentine soil where competitors will travel 9300 kilometers. A real challenge. Career. For this edition the route will be divided between Argentina and Bolivia.
First are the technical verification’s of the vehicles, on December 31. On January 2, the participants will pass through the podium located in Tecnpolis, and from the 3rd begins the race that will take place in ten Argentine provinces: Buenos Aires, Cordoba (Villa Carlos Paz), Santiago del Estero (Termas de Rio Hondo), Jujuy . From there it will pass to Bolivia (Uyuni), then return to the country for: Salta, Tucumn, Catamarca (Beln), La Rioja, San Juan and will close in Santa Fe (Rosario), on January 16.
As usual, pilots will have to go through different reliefs with changes in temperatures – ranging between 4 and 45 degrees – and on surfaces that can go from the mountains to deserts, dunes or salinas. In Bolivia the runners will be at 4600 meters above sea level. The cold can also be a factor: in 2015 the route of Uyuni was carried out with rains and strong winds and reached 8 degrees below zero.
Sorting these factors is a challenge and the error can even cost a living. Not for nothing the Dakar gained the reputation of being the most dangerous competition of all. In 36 years of history there were 63 deaths, 24 were pilots and co-pilots, the rest are completed by spectators, helpers or journalists. The curious fact is that the creator of the Paris-Dakar also died while a competition was held when crashing with his helicopter in Mali in 1986.
This edition involves 556 pilots of sixty nationalities divided into: 110 cars, 143 bikes, 46 quadricycles and 55 trucks. Argentina is the third country with the most participants (13.8%), surpassed by France (15.5%) and the Netherlands (14.4%). The economic impact of the 2016 Dakar will be 150 million euros.
Due to the high costs, this race is not for everyone. For example, running on a motorcycle, plus assistance, but without the help of a team that accompanies it – marathon mode – can cost about $ 80,000. Another point to consider is the preparation of each competitor: they train double shift since March, with dedication full time.
This year there will be innovations that privilege on the one hand regularity and resistance and on the other, the ability to navigate. With an unpublished start format that will be experienced in the super special Fiambal. Based on the times recorded the previous day, the 10 best bikes, the 10 best cars and the 5 fastest trucks will start mixed, with three minutes apart. That will force the first cars to open the track almost without footprints, which will give more importance to the sailors.
Challenge. Motorcycles and quadricycles are the most dangerous, as the riders are exposed. This time there will be neither the Spanish Marc Coma – who now is in charge of the sport organization of the Dakar – nor the Frenchman Cyril Despres, winners of the last twelve editions.
One of the candidates to be among the first places is the Argentine Javier Pizzolito who is part of Honda and will run with a modified CRF 450 that received 40 days before the race. “Compete in the Dakar is to touch the top. Once you reach the goal you know that you reach the most difficult motor objective that exists, “he tells NEWS the rider, who will seek to improve his eighth position achieved in 2013. He adds:” The Dakar you have to respect, if you fear it time to get down because fear paralyzes you and exposes you to many dangers. ”
Pablo Pascual is the Argentine driver that more Dakar ran. He does not do it for a team, but competes in a particular way. This brings you some disadvantages. His motorcycle was prepared and brought by boat from France, because during these years he could not enter the spare parts to the country and just has two days before competing.
In the Dakar no one is exempt from anything, there are very dangerous parts where fatigue and physical exhaustion come together. Pascual tells NEWS, who is part of the Crossing for Education and in 2014 traveled 3100 kilometers to bring more than 60 thousand letters of children to Pope Francisco.
In quadricycles the good news is the return, after some years of absence, of Marcos Patronelli, winner in 2010 and 2013; and his brother Alejandro, winner in 2011 and 2012. With the cars the candidates are the MINI riders who stayed with the last four editions. The last was the billionaire Nasser Al-Attiyah, two-time rally champion, part of one of the wealthiest families in Qatar and even has an Olympic medal in another discipline totally different, clay pigeon shooting.
With that sport, participated in five Olympic Games and in London 2012 was left with the bronze medal. In the same team is the Argentine Orly Terranova, who won the fifth place in two editions. He is also part of the MINI team, Nazareno Cristbal Lpez, the son of the Kirchner businessman.
Another that will seek to finish among the top positions is the TC rider, Emiliano Spataro with a Renault Duster, enlisted and improved in South Africa. The novelty will be with the participation of Sbastien Loeb, nine times World Rally Champion (WRC).
In the trucks the first place finishers are always the Russian teams, who since 2000 dominate the category with 12 competitions remaining.