Dakar Rally: How to survive the world’s toughest race

The Dakar Rally has lengthy stood at the pinnacle of off-road motorsport demanding situations, incomes a name as the international’s toughest motor race, challenged simplest through the Isle of Man TT for brutality and the World Rally Championship for its check of staying power.

These days, the risk of terrorism has pushed it from Africa to South America, however it’s no much less of a problem for it. This 12 months’s tournament started on 6 January and concluded on 20 January, overlaying 5600 miles – part of them at aggressive speeds – from Peru, by way of Bolivia and into Argentina. The longest day concerned greater than 550 miles of using, the longest aggressive segment was once 310 miles. Competitors had only one relaxation day.

The tournament produces a raft of iconic pictures yearly, however this 12 months one particularly has stood out, of South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, a winner of the tournament in 2009, and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz bursting thru a sand dune of their Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux. Here, in de Villier’s personal phrases, is the tale of the image.


“We drive through the dunes all the time. We call it surfing, because the key is to stay on top of them, not sink in. All dunes are different sizes, different shapes, some have holes in, some don’t. In this particular shot we went through a hole and then up the other side again. The Hilux caught some sand on its nose and shot it forwards, creating the cloud that the photo caught us in. In the car, in truth we hardly noticed – this sort of thing happens all the time.”


“There’s a large distinction between being in a mud cloud and no longer being in a position to see. In the automotive your whole senses are heightened. It’s intense. You pay attention to the engine, your navigator and so forth. If you’ve pushed on the avenue along with your spouse telling you to decelerate, you’ll relate!

“A dust cloud is a brief moment, but if you are following another car, for instance, you just can’t see. You stop or take another route. The risks are too big to drive blind. There are big holes, big rocks, cliffs. If you can’t see, you can’t go.”


“The Dakar is amazingly difficult. An ordinary particular person would more than likely dream of doing it as soon as, do it, after which by no means come again. But when you do smartly at some point – particularly on a tricky day – smartly, it’s a super feeling. We come again for the journey and the problem.

“We just accept the danger. There’s a lot of risk. You do drive blind sometimes, you do take chances and push limits. I’ve never talked to Dirk about it. Life is full of risks, and danger is just a part of it.”


“I as soon as drove a 420-mile degree on the Dakar. That one took 11 hours to end. Temperatures in the cockpit have been 60degC, the air conditioning couldn’t cope.

“Then, even in that warmth, when you drink so much you gained’t simply sweat it out. We can’t prevent for a bathroom smash, and also you don’t desire a complete bladder, so we put on a nappy. The mechanics wouldn’t thank us for simply getting into the seat…

“When you’re moving so fast, for so long, crashing through dunes and the like, the heat just builds up. You just psyche yourself up and keep moving. If you’re moving, you’re getting closer to the finish.”

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Dakar Rally: How to survive the world’s toughest race

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