Dakar: The Most Dangerous Race on Earth
Marc Coma 2110 Dakar Rally
The Dakar insanity is a one-of-a-kind, 17 day, 14-stage, 9,000-kilometer rally loop-de-looping through Argentina and Chile (map of the course) and it is not your average ramble in the country. For 30 years in Africa and now in South America it has been considered the toughest motor vehicle race in the world. The 2010 rally started January 1 and is slated to conclude on January 17 in Buenos Aires
Dunes, desert, mountains, drug cartels, coups d'états and other hostile obstacles wait for the 151 bikes, 25 quads, 134 cars and 52 trucks. As proving grounds for the manufacturers, approximately 45 percent will not finish the race – which only proves you can roll them and fold them and light them on fire. Vehicle parts fly and sometimes, so do the drivers.
How dangerous is the race? One year a rider got lost on the route and three days later they brought him out in a bag. Argentine quad driver Marco Patronelli said, "You could be dying at the side of the road and they would pass by at top speed." Although the vehicles do have rear-view mirrors the drivers/riders do not look back.
There is not much financial rewards for the event with the winner receiving 25,000 euros. I guess that is better than a trophy, and a kiss from a Buenos Aires beach bunny but it barely pays for the physical therapy a driver/rider needs after finishing the race.
The sport takes speed, endurance and keeping your bottom-side down. There is no bunching behind the leader, no caution flags, and no parade lap.