History of Dakar
The 2017 Dakar Rally will the 38th edition of the event and the ninth successive year that the event will be held in South America.
JOHANNESBURG – Arguably the world’s best known rally, the Dakar, started quite literally by accident.
Motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine was competing in a race from Abijan to Nice, when he got lost in the Tenere desert.
As he plotted his way out, it occurred to him that it was the perfect place for an endurance driving event.
A year later, in 1978, Sabine inaugurated the rally, starting in Paris in December, and making its way across wild and rough terrain to Dakar, Senegal. About 170 participants started the race that year, on a route that spanned almost 10,000km.
The inaugural event was won by Alain Genestier and co-driver Joseph Terbiaut, driving a Range Rover.
The father of the race, Thierry Sabine, was killed in Mali in 1986, along with four others, when his helicopter crashed in a sudden sandstorm over the desert.
But by then, the rally was an unmissable endurance driving event, drawing competitors from all over the world.
It started as a rich man's game - a test of mettle for the wealthy. But soon, brands and manufacturers cottoned onto the value of the rally and the importance of being associated with what was fast becoming the greatest endurance race on earth.
For years, the rally ran from Paris to Dakar, with the traverse across open land interrupted only by the crossing of the Mediterranean.
Over the years, the route has varied, mostly to avoid strife torn regions in Africa, but one year, because of a complaint by the then mayor of Paris, who didn't want his city disrupted by hundreds of cars and bikes, the start of the rally was moved to various cities.
Then, in 2008, organisers decided to cancel the race, amid fears of terror attacks in Mauritania.
Many believed this would be the death knell for the event.
But a year later, it reinvented itself, on a new continent.
The 2009 edition started in the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires, and made it's way through Chile, and back.
The first running of the rally on South American soil was a particularly significant one for South Africa, with Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz driving to overall victory.
Since the race moved to South America, its route has varied several times, taking in various parts of Argentina and Chile.
In 2012, Peru signed on to host part of the rally, and Bolivia was added to the ranks of host countries in the 2014 edition.
The 2015 Dakar Rally was the 36th running of the event and the seventh successive year that the event was held in South America. The event started in Buenos Aires, Argentina on January 4, then ran through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, before returning to Buenos Aires on January 17 after 13 stages of competition, for a total distance of 9,000km. For the first time, organizers reserved separate rest days for different categories so that at least two classes raced on each day.
Marc Coma won a fifth title in the motorcycle category for KTM, while Rafał Sonik secured a maiden quads crown aboard his Yamaha. Nasser Al-Attiyah took his second title for the X-Raid Mini squad in the car category, while Ayrat Mardeev continued Kamaz's winning streak, a third successive win in the Dakar Rally, in the truck category, with his maiden victory.
The 2016 Dakar Rally was the 37th edition of the event and the eighth successive year that the event was held in South America. The event started in Buenos Aires, Argentina on January 2, then ran through Argentina and Bolivia.
Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen made their debuts in the rally raid, driving for Peugeot and Mini respectively.
The victory in the car category was contested in court by runner-up, X-Raid Team.
The 2017 Dakar Rally will be the 38th edition of the event and the ninth successive year that the event will be held in South America. The event will start in Asuncíon, Paraguay on January 2, then run through Bolivia and Argentina, before returning to Buenos Aires on January 14 after 12 stages of competition.