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The Paris-Dakar Race - the figures

  Posted at 01:47:54 PM
  File under  Racing Dakar Race
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Paris, France

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The legendary Paris-Dakar race is almost upon us again (the start is January 1st). What had started in 1978 as a race for amateurs and passionates by Thierry Sabine (he died in an accident supervising the race) has turned into a major race, featuring the top professional rally racers in the world (and still some amateurs). It all started in 1977 when Sabine got lost in the desert while competing for the Nice-Abidjan race. He had the idea to host a rally for amateurs through the desert.

In the first race back in 1978, 170 racers (the 2003 race had 986) came to the starting line to compete in the 10,000 kilometers race. A legend was borne. The credo "A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind" still holds.

Now, professional teams compete with backup trucks, team managers, masseurs and all the bits & bobs that go with the pros. But still, individual racers come from all over the world to compete. But there are less and less. The reason; the costs<

Competiting in the Dakar is a black hole where money is poured in. If you register for the race in the last quarter of the year (earlier gives you a discount), you can expect to fork out 18,000 Euros  to the organizers. That represents 2,700 Euros for your motorcycle, 300 Euros to rent the mandatory GPS, 300 Euros for the distress beacon (a handy device in case you get lost), 1220 Euros in fuel, 1220 Euros to return by boat to France and then 11,700 Entry fees. That does not include your motorcycle, the preparation and the transport to France.

If you have an assistance car, expect to add on some 12,000 Euros. For that money, ASO (the organizers) will allow you to participate in the event, transport your vehicles by boat from Spain to Africa, give you something to eat in the bivouacs (camps) in Africa, insure you (and medical repatriation in case of a crash), a cocktail for the awards ceremony and return your motorcycle to France.

ASO have GPS specialist available at all camps, so if you have a problem, they can fix it on the spot. Each camp has a medical tent, where there are always doctors and other medical staff available. You, the contestant, need to ensure that you have valid visas, and pay for your own flight back from Dakar (if you make it so far) and a satellite telephone (mandatory).

So all-in-all, the budget for a private rider comes to about 75,000 USD !! No wonder there are not that many privateers..

The race is grueling. Many never make it to the beach in Dakar. Of the 162 motorcycles starting in the 2003 race, only 98 finished. Of the 490 cars, only 189 finished. 42% of the contestants were first timers ! And it's not only for the young; 12% were between 50 and 65 years old !

Click here to visit the Dakar website.

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