Dakar Rally 2019: Exclusive Peruvian Menu!

The meanest of all motor rallies is ready to rumble. Dakar Rally is now an all Peru one, but the battle will remain as gruelling as it ever was

 Sand dunes and deserts. One doesn’t get dirtier and that includes the machines too. Dakar Rally, the most gruelling motor rally in the world, is to enter its 41st edition in January. The difference this time is that it will be an exclusive Peruvian menu. That’s the only difference. All other things remain the same. From bikes and quads to trucks, almost anything that moves on wheels will be racing in the 14-stage endurance test. To say that it still remains one of the most taxing all-terrain rides of the circuit will be an understatement!

What began from Paris in the early years later confined itself to South American deserts. But with Chile, Argentina and Bolivia withdrawing from the event, the rally has now exclusively Peru.

On January 7, 2019, 534 competitors piloting motorcycles, quads, cars (including UTVs), SxS vehicles, and trucks will begin the 5,000 km course from sea level to 5,000 meters elevation, over sand dunes and rock, including 3,000 km of particularly intense special stages that will also subject participants to the extreme weather conditions found at dramatically different altitudes.

Watch out for the rookie class, the largest in the race’s history, the women’s class, which, at 17, is at its highest. And then there is the rapidly-growing SxS division.

Another addition to the race is the “half marathon,” a second chance class that draws from the cars, trucks and SxS’s that have pulled themselves out of the race during the opening half of the rally.  This “parallel competition” starts up after the half-time rest day but as a separate classification with orange plates and no chance to be included within the top 25 starts.

“It is a little like as if we were competing in the Vendée Globe only in the roaring 40s,” says race director Etienne Lavigne in defining the degree of difficulty of the 2019 edition.

Dakar Rally is an awesome wholesome. Speed is only one part of the elements that drive men and their machines. Dune crossings need skills of a higher level. The ability to navigate without detours in open terrain and the indispensable physical strength to battle in the massive sandy sectors will be the criteria to fulfil for the title contenders.

The indestructible KTMs, the Hondas, the Yamahas will be there in the bike class. In the car class, there are the Minis, the Romas, the Peugeots, and the Toyotas will make the largest car field since 2015. In the truck division, the favourites are from Kamaz.

The number of rally newcomers totals 135 competitors, allowing 97 vehicles to compete for rookie of the year honours. The SxS category has 30 entrants in all, and a battle that promises to be a tight one. The women’s will be the largest with 17, including long-time competitor in the bike category Laia Sanz.


The adventure began back in 1977, when Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice Rally. Saved from the sands in extremis, he returned to France still in thrall to this landscape and promising himself he would share his fascination with as many people as possible. He proceeded to come up with a route starting in Europe, continuing to Algiers and crossing Agadez before eventually finishing at Dakar. The founder coined a motto for his inspiration: “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”

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