Dakar motorsport rally: What to expect during the race

40 things you need to know about the Dakar Rally

Words: Werner Jessner
Photo: FELIPE TRUEBA

The Dakar Rally is perhaps the toughest, and most dangerous, motorsport event in the world. Part 3: 10 things you need to know while racing the Dakar

The 39th outing gets underway on January 2 in Asunción, Paraguay. Here’s what you need to know while racing the Dakar:

  1. What happens after an accident?
  2. Who will repair my car if it breaks down?
  3. Can your co-driver take the wheel?
  4. What do I do if I hit an animal?
  5. Why are there so many buttons and switches in the cockpit?
  6. Where do I fill up?
  7. How can you lose your way when you have GPS and a roadbook?
  8. Do I always have to stay on the course?
  9. Do I need to be at full tilt all the time?
  10. Are there speeding tickets?
Read more
1. What happens after an accident?

Hopefully you won’t have lost consciousness and you can make the emergency call yourself, which sets the rescue procedure in motion and automatically takes you out of the race. If you’re lying in a ditch somewhere, unconscious and immobile, you have to hope that one of your fellow competitors stumbles across you. The good news is that sportsmen and women come together in extreme situations, and the race will come to a brief halt.

Jacek Czachor changing a wheel for Dabrowski (Toyota)

Jacek Czachor, Czech co-driver of Polish Marek Dabrowski (Toyota) changes a wheel during the eleventh stage of the Dakar Rally 2016 held between La Rioja and San Juan, Argentina

© Felipe Trueba

2. Who will repair my car if it breaks down?

Your co-driver. Provided, that is, you’ve teamed up with him/her based on mechanical engineering abilities as well as navigational skills. Alternatively, repair it with your own fair hands. For the bikers, option B is all you’ve got.

40 facts you need to know about the Dakar Rally - Part 1

Find out how the Dakar began and why it is such a dangerous event. Here are 10 facts you need to know. The Red Bulletin - The international men's active lifestyle magazine

3. Can your co-driver take the wheel?

Yes. But he’ll need a race licence.

4. What do I do if I hit an animal?

Put it on the barbeque. South American steaks are the stuff of legend.

Dakar motorsport rally: Cockpit of a racing car

© Flavien Duhamel

5. Why are there so many buttons and switches in the cockpit?

Because (almost) all the functions have a back-up in case they fail – just like on an aeroplane. A glance inside the Peugeot 3008 DKR reveals two GPS devices, two TripMasters and a stopwatch. The fuses in the centre are exposed so you can quickly get to the bottom of any technical trouble. The most vital source of information for the driver is the central gear indicator. And, yes, there is air-con. It keeps the temperature below 60 degrees.

Dakar: Petrol station

KTM rider Marc Coma (Spain) at a refueling stop

© Felipe Dana

Read more
6. Where do I fill up?

In addition to local infrastructure, the organisers arrange fuel stops, which normally mean a barrel with a pump or tankers by the side of the road. On the road sections you just go to regular petrol stations.

40 facts you need to know about the Dakar Rally - Part 4

The Dakar Rally the most dangerous motorsport event in the world. Here are 10 things you need to know about sleep, supply and support. The Red Bulletin - The international men's active lifestyle magazine

7. How can you lose your way when you have GPS and a roadbook?

Because you follow the wrong competitors and it turns out they haven’t chosen the right route. Because you’re exhausted after a week of sleep deprivation, extreme altitude, huge physical exertion and, in all likelihood, diarrhoea. Because you forget to move the roadbook forward electronically. Because you dislodged the GPS mount on your vehicle the last time you crashed. Or possibly because – and this is the worst reason of all – you miss one of the GPS checkpoints, and that means you’re out of the race.

Roadbook
8. Do I always have to stay on the course?

If you know a shortcut, take it. But whatever you do, don’t miss a GPS checkpoint.

9. Do I need to be at full tilt all the time?

No, you can take your time on the sections between the special stages. But you should be at the bivouac in time for the evening driver briefing – usually held at 9 or 10pm – at the latest.

Dakar: motorbike at night

© ASO/ @World/ A Lavadinho/ A Vialatte

10. Are there speeding tickets?

You better believe it! There are severe penalties for speeding infringements on the road sections between the racing stages. Every kilometre over the speed limit counts and is calculated by GPS. How severe are the penalties? Take your regular speeding fine and add a 0 on the end.

 

Red Bull TV and redbull.com will bring you spectacular footage… LIVE from January 2-14

Read more
01 2017 The Red Bulletin

Next story