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Is The Dakar Rally Doomed?

  Posted at 03:57:05 PM
  File under  Dakar Race Opinion
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

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Since the organizers of the Dakar rally, ASO Open link in a new window, cancelled this years' event due to Al-Qaïda terrorist threats towards the race and its participants, does this spell the end of not only this mythical race, but also other international rallies?

The decision for ASO to cancel the event was obviously not taken lightly, and they can't be blamed. If the intelligence community says that the threat is real and hard, they can only do one thing, and that is cancel the event.

But with the cancellation, have they doomed large international races like the Dakar? It has set a precedent for a terrorist group like Al-Qaïda to threaten a race, kill a few people, and force it to stop. They've won. Now they know they can get away with it.

Any race or event that runs cross borders or through large parts of a country, like cross country races, car rallies are under threat now. The bad guys have a new target....

Secondly, if you're planning to take part in next year's Dakar race, unless you're a pro with plenty of budget, you're going to think twice. It's happened once, so it could happen again. You're money is down the drain. You'll get your entry fee back, but that's it. All other things you've paid, like your motorcycle, training, kit, travel, hotels, you name it.. it's gone!

If you're a sponsor, you're also going to think twice. Most contestants get their sponsorship money up-front, to pay for all the costs. You're never going to get the exposure!

So all-in-all, it's sad, very sad. I think it's going to be very difficult for ASO to get a momentum going for 2009. I don't blame ASO, they made the right choice, I feel sorry for everyone involved, and I feel even more sorry for the future of these events.


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