Half the riders don’t make the finish line in Dakar Rally

Half the riders don’t make the finish line in Dakar Rally

Posted by Ben Baker on Jan 21st 2016

The world’s most grueling off-road race for motorcycle riders and other endure riders saw about half the field of all racers unable to finish the 14-day ride that covered just under 6,000 miles. Bikers fared a little better.

When the race started, 136 took to the saddle. By the end, 84 managed to cross the finish line. Australian rider Toby Price was the first bike across the line. It was his second Dakar. Slovakian (Europe) Stefan Svitko took second and Chilean (South America) Pablo Quintanilla came in third.

For a lot of the riders, finishing the race is victory enough. Over the years, 26 competitors from various classes have been killed in the race. Injuries are too commonplace to mention. This year there were no racer fatalities. A spectator was killed by a car as he crossed a road.

It’s not always the machine that gives out. C.R. Gittere was one of those who got sidelined because of health. He was medically evacuated in the 10th stage, a desert run. He had stomach problems. “I trained for this for a year and a half. To have it go south, because of a bad stomach, that sucks. I want to try this again,” he told media covering the rally.

This year’s ride was so rough that one desert stage was canceled when temperatures hit 114 degrees. Race organizers were concerned riders would overheat because of the armor they wear on the ride.

The run started in Buenos Aires and wound through Argentina and Bolivia. Riders were in mountains as high as 15,000 feet above sea level and as low as deserts. Temps in the mountains hovered around freezing while the desert runs saw the aforementioned triple digits.

Paddock Talk described the last leg of the 13-stage rally as the most intense. It was “a 699 kilometers journey on twisty, undulating routes and faster sandy and rocky sections. The 180-kilometer special of this last Dakar stage was probably the most challenging of the whole competition, with high stakes for the leaders.”

American rider Ricky Brabec described the endurance run as “awesome.” He pledged to come back to the 2017 Dakar. This was his first run and he placed 9th.

KTM, which has dominated the DAKAR with first place finishes in the past 15 rallies, took the top two slots again. Honda, Yamaha and Husqvarna all had top 10 finishes as well.

The Dakar is organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation out of France. The Dakar has been held in various places around the world. It started in 1978 and was a run from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. The Dakar runs four-wheel vehicles and off-road bikes.