The 39th outing gets underway on January 2 in Asunción, Paraguay. Here’s what you need to know in advance:
- What do I need to line up for the start of the Dakar?
- Do I need a driving licence?
- Is this a total boys’ club?
- How much money will I need?
- How many hours a day will I be on the road?
- Does everyone start together?
- What do I get if I win the Dakar?
- When am I going to win?
- What does a winning car look like?
- How can I keep track of the rally?
You need a motorsport licence. And to get the class needed for Dakar you need to prove your physical and mental abilities. Then you work your way up to the Dakar by taking part in smaller events, like the one in Morocco. Dakar rookies also need to submit a detailed application. Only then do the organisers decide whether you’re up to the task. There’s also one other thing that will help you not only start your first Dakar, but also finish it – humility… and maybe a 10 per cent cushion of ability.
Yes, because between the special stages you have to drive on public roads in regular traffic.
How much have you got? The poorest competitors go it alone in the motorbike category. But then you have to do everything yourself. So you’re looking at:
- €24,000: A KTM Adventure bike with a ‘ready-to-race’ Dakar package
- €14,800: Starter’s fee
- €10,000: Spare parts
- €3,000: Rider’s equipment
- €2,000: Flights
- €1,000: Licence and attestation
- €1,000: Visa, small gifts, internet access, etc
Alternatively, sign up with a KTM satellite team for €90,000. That gets you your own mechanic, too. Accompanying staff generally cost extra. The fees are staggered according to when you register, starting at €9,000 per assistant. And as they’re coming along for the ride, you have to register every support car, too. A car will set you back €2,500, and a motorhome costs €6,000.
Bear in mind that you’ll have to take down your tent at 4am, leave the bivouac at five, following a quick breakfast, then do 300km in regular traffic, then another 300 with your foot to the floor, and then 200 more in regular traffic again to get to the next bivouac. Your Dakar job is more five-to-nine than it is nine-to-five.
No. The bikes and quads start ahead of the cars with the trucks setting off last. It’s exciting when the quick cars come up against the slowest bikes and the former can no longer see and the latter can no longer be seen. The order within the groups is interesting, too, because the quickest participant from the day before gets things underway and has to set the pace. A lot of participants proceed tactically and deliberately fall off the pace some days.
Honour and glory, and a nice trophy, because with just €58,000 prize money on offer for top spot, you’re not likely to be in this for the cash. If you win in your category, you get €5,000. But if you exploit your victory well, you’ll never go hungry.
If you’re a world-class athlete, no earlier than your third outing. See how it works, get good at it, win. Otherwise, never.
Like the Peugeot 3008 DKR, a marked improvement on the winning 2008 DKR from last year. The regulations favour rear-wheel drive, so Peugeot have dispensed with all-wheel drive. Air to the twin-turbo diesel engine is restricted, but it still generates 340hp and can reach speeds of 200kph. At 46cm, the 3008 DKR’s springs are so big that in theory it could drive over an armchair and the drivers wouldn’t feel it. It takes seconds to get the spare wheels out in case of a breakdown, and the car is lighter and better-balanced than in 2016. It all looks good for a successful title defence.
Red Bull TV and redbull.com will bring you spectacular footage…
LIVE from January 2-14:
PAYING THE PRICE
Premiere: December 20
Toby Price dominated the 2016 Dakar and won it convincingly. The secret of the Australian rider’s success? Blood, sweat and tears.
THE KAMAZ STORY
Premiere: December 20
Russian team Kamaz have put together a whole new race truck for 2017. A documentary crew followed its progress.
Premiere: December 27
Austrian motorcyclist Walkner was severely injured in a crash at the 2016 Dakar, but didn’t give up. Red Bull TV shows his way back.