Dakar Rally

Part of the reason for undertaking this trip is for MJo to prepare for one of his long-held dreams – doing the Dakar in Jan 2012.

What is the Dakar?

The Dakar Rally

(or simply “The Dakar”; formerly known as “The Paris-Dakar”) is an annual off-road rally race. It is considered to be by far the harderst and most challenging motorsport event in the world. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania in 2008, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America (Argentina and Chile), the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa. It has stayed in South America from 2009 to Present (2011). The race is open to amateur and professional entries. Amateurs typically make up about eighty percent of the participants.

The terrain 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. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres (500–560 mi) per day.

MJo’s navigation course in Nevada April 2010

In April 2010, MJo went for a 3 day specialized navigation training to Death Valley in Nevada with the American Dakar “guru”, Charlie Rauseo.

MJo during his navigation course

In his words: “The exprience was mind blowing and took my respect for the amateur competitors to a whole new level. Not only was the physical and mental exhaustion terrifying but also to navigate simply by “sketches in a road book” stuck into the cockpit, no GPS and all of it at very high speeds, across wild dessert terrain, from sand to rocks to water, took an enormous effort. On the flip-side, this sort of training has also made me a better prepared rider for the 10000kms we have coming up.” [Sabby: And trust me, these words don’t come easily or often from MJo!!]

See below for a video from Charlie of the rally training course

Here is a video of Jonah Street, the top American Dakar competitor and one of the instructors whom MJo rode with, riding in the 2007 Dakar. The speed is incredible, even a helicopter is having difficulty following it! Imagine riding like this for 9-10 hours a day, for 2 weeks in a row!!