The 2014 Dakar Rally

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Being an avid dual purpose rider myself, there is no bigger event to look forward to than the annual Dakar Rally. The history The Dakar rally was first held in 1979 and covered a route of 5534km, taking competitors from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal.  That year saw a total of 170 competitors taking part.

Cyril Neveu on his winning Yamaha XT500  - www.dakardantan.com

Cyril Neveu on his winning Yamaha XT500 in 1979 – www.dakardantan.com

A total of 26 competitors lost their lives during this gruesome event since 1979, 17 of which were motorcycle riders.  Sadly the list of non-competitors involved in fatal accidents is even longer… In 2008 the event was cancelled due to fears of terrorist attacks.  Chile and Argentina, along with the Czech Republic offered to host the event the following year.  Although the name remains the ‘Dakar Rally’, the event has been held in South America since 2009.  The 2014 rally will see competitors travel a total distance of almost 9000km through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.   The bikes Entrants in the event since the first competition included bikes such as Yamaha’s XT500, YZE750T and YZE850T. BMW’s R80G/S, R100G/S and F650RR.  Honda’s NXR750V and NXR800V.  Cagiva’s Elefant 900.  KTM’s LC8950R, LC4660R and 690 Rally.  Since 2012 however, all motorcycles are limited to 450cc.  This made room for bikes such as KTM’s 450 Rally, Yamaha’s YZ450F, Honda’s CRF450, Sherco’s SR450, Gas-Gas’s FR450, Suzuki’s RMX450, Husqvarna’s TE449, Kawasaki’s KLX450R, BMW’s G450X and Beta’s 450RR. A total of 196 riders will take part in the 2014 edition of the Dakar Rally.

Cyril Depres's 2014 Yamaha YZ450F rally bike - www.yamaha-racing.com

Cyril Depres’s 2014 Yamaha YZ450F rally bike – www.yamaha-racing.com

The route Over a period of 14 days, competitors will travel a total distance of 5228km of timed special stages, starting at Rosario, Argentina on the 4th of January and ending at Valparaíso, Chile on the 18th.  The route, consisting of 13 stages will test competitors’ skills on different kinds of surfaces and under extreme conditions through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

Route for the 2014 Dakar Rally - www.dakar.com

Route for the 2014 Dakar Rally – www.dakar.com

The competitors Since 2005 the motorcycle class was dominated by two riders, the Frenchman, Cyril Despres and the Spaniard, Marc Coma.  Both riders on KTMs.  Despres and Coma took turns taking the title till 2012 when Depress won twice in a row, making him a five time Dakar winner over Coma’s three titles. After his 2013 victory with KTM, Despres announced that he will be signing with Yamaha for the 2014 edition of the rally.  The move to Yamaha was done with the idea in mind that, should he be victorious for the sixth time, it will be with the same team with which fellow Frenchman, Stéphane Peterhansel, also claimed six wins during his motorcycle career. Other riders to look out for are the young Spaniard, Joan Barreda Bort on his Honda, Ruben Faria, runner-up in 2013, on a KTM, Francisco López, also KTM, Olivier Pain on a Yamaha and Paulo Gonçalves on a Husqvarna, to name a few.

Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria at the finish of the 2013 Dakar Rally  - www.derestricted.com

Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria at the finish of the 2013 Dakar Rally – www.derestricted.com

Over the next week and during the 2014 Dakar Rally we will try our best to keep you up to date with the latest news, standings and stories of this major event.