We all know if there is one race that last’s for near about half a month and which covers several countries as its race track than it is none other than the Dakar Rally. Every now and then I’ve wondered what it feels like to be a part of the world’s most difficult rally race, at times I have found myself jumping from one web page to another trying to know more about the Dakar Rally.
It started back in 1978 and since then its popularity has been increasing year by year. The mid-2000s saw the Dakar Rally reach the height of its popularity. The entry list by 2004 had swollen to 595, up from 358 in 2001, with a record 688 competitors taking the start in 2005. Despite its "rally" name, it is an off-road endurance race, properly called a "rally raid" rather than a conventional rally. The terrain that the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified on-road vehicles used in rallies. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, and erg among others and the riders covers distances up to 800–900 kilometers (500–560 mi) per day.
The video below features David Reeve who has competed in the Dakar Rally several times and shares his experience of the race. He has been racing from more than 34 years now and has won many Enduro championships including Zambian championship 16 times and African Championship three times, as he stated in this video that was published in the year 2013. He talks about the difficulty level of Dakar, he clearly states “Think about your hardest Enduro Race and make it 14 times difficult”. Every day of race you are woken up at around 3am in the morning to have breakfast and get your stuff ready and then you race all day and do the same thing again and again and again for 14 days.
He explains the importance of road-book he says "you’ve got to go every meter by meter according to your road-book because on that road book there are all the dangers, the dips, the dives, the biggest rocks and everything the Dakar has put in the road-book”. And apart from the road-book one more thing that is of vital importance while racing the Dakar is the speed traps. The rider has to always remain in the speed limit in that specific speed zone and if one crosses the speed trap with a greater speed than allowed then he is subject to penalty which might even end the chance of him competing in the rally.
While talking about his in ride experience, David explains he enjoyed learning from his fellow riders, he saw them slowing down when ever there was a hurdle and observing how they traced the terrain taught him many important things about riding in the Dakar. David competed in Dakar 2013 and broke his leg after he crashed just before three stages to complete and later in 2014 he made another attempt when he dislocated his knee after a rough crash in stage three.
David says, “The Dakar is a bit of a ‘Grande Finale' for me. I've witnessed all types of races including World championships, but the Dakar is unbelievable. Last year, I suffered another cruel moment. On day 3, I overtook two riders who were together and hit a rock. I somersaulted over the bike and dislocated my knee, injuring ligaments. I must be crazy to go back! I went to the Morocco Rally with a totally different attitude. I need to forget about the racing and focus on the navigation. And of course, not overtake! I'm going to take it slowly and it'll come to me. As a Zambian rider I hope to open the eyes of the people here and get more black Zambians into motorsports. Being the first Zambian to compete and finish would really mean something”. Watch the full video down below to see David Reeve talking about his Dakar 2013 experience and leave your feedback for us in the comments below.