Updated: Jan 26, 2022
"A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind." Thierry Sabine
The Paris Dakar (or Dakar Rally as it is known today) is first and foremost an endurance race for men and women across virgin terrain in the wilds of some rather fantastic, exotic, and picturesque landscapes. The first desert endurance race event was held back in 1977 in Africa and was the creation of a French motorbike rider called Thierry Sabine. Sabine was inspired to create this exhilarating experience when he got lost on his own bike while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally.
Motivated by the notion that his bike could get him out of trouble as quickly as getting him into a sticky situation and inspired by the challenge of the desert, he developed his own race called the Paris-Dakar. This unique event is open to all riders (amateur and professional) and carries a message of friendship across a very international group of competitors. The event never fails to challenge, surprise, and excite riders, drivers, and sponsors, and the few lucky spectators who manage to find their way to the remote parts of the trail to watch the participants push their vehicles through two weeks of exquisite wilderness terrain.
The first Dakar was held in Saudi in 2020, and 2022 marks a return to the action following Covid disruptions. I have long been fascinated by the drivers who participate in this epic event. The event is televised across the globe on all the major sports channels, from ESPN, SBS Sport, France TV, Sky Sports, and every other big name you can imagine. The event's sponsors are all big industry names, from tire and vehicle brands to Swiss watchmakers and hotel chains, and now Saudi is teaming up with this iconic desert adventure brand to bring a new level of high-octane thrills to drivers and spectators.
My research on the event proved that the Dakar is not a cheap event to enter with a 15700 euros registration fee for the moto/quad bikes, going up to 39 400 euros for the Trucks. Then you must get yourself, your support crew, and your vehicle to the race location and criss-cross Saudi for the best part of two weeks. So, all up, this event is for the dedicated adventure seekers.
And as a spectator, we had to be pretty dedicated ourselves to get up at 4.30 am two mornings in a row to get to the start (DSS) of the Riyadh legs. But trust me, it was worth every minute of it.
Once in Saudi, drivers will find every kind of desert experience they can imagine, and over the course of the three days that the event circled Riyadh I got to see some of the action. If you are thinking, hey I would love to see this next year, bear in mind that the Dakar is a rally and as such the drivers themselves don’t get to know the course they will take till the very last minute. My best advice for next year is to go north of the railway line and lookup for the birds (helicopters) and then you will intersect with the racecourse. Check out my pictures here and for more on Dakar, visit www.Dakar.com
The course map https://twitter.com/i/status/1480758869290749952