The Dakar Rally is formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally” is an annual rally raid organized by the Amaury Sports Organization. The Dakar originated in December 1978, a year after Thierry Sabine got lost in the Ténéré desert whilst competing in the Abidjan-Nice. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, races since 2009 have been held in South America.
182 vehicles took the start of the inaugural rally in Paris, with 74 surviving the 10,000-kilometre (6,200 mi) trip to the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
It didn’t take long for the Dakar race to catch the attention of automakers, sponsors, and fans. For the next three decades, the Dakar Rally became the ultimate off-road sport. Many who participate are adventure aspirants. Moreover, car manufacturers often use the rally to test new vehicles.
The race’s official Web site claims “entering the Dakar is, in a certain way, like climbing Everest, sailing round the globe or rowing around the world.” Nearly 500 racers from more than 50 countries compete each year in the 14-stage race.
Billed as the most dangerous race in the world, 59 people have died either participating or watching as spectators. In 2010, a woman in Argentina died after being struck by a vehicle that veered off course. She was one of more than 20 race fans who has been killed over the years [source: CNN]. In 2012, Jorge Martinez Boero, an Argentinean rider, died on the first day of the event after he suffered a heart attack after falling off his bike [source: Discovery.com].
The race is composed of three groups of modified vehicles including motorcycles, quads, cars (which include dune buggies and SUVs) and trucks. Drivers must complete every stage in their class. During each leg, competitors must follow a specific route using a map. Drivers have to find their own way. In the end, everyone is supposed to end up at the same place, but people often get lost
A 2006 television documentary Race to Dakar described the experiences of a team, including the English actor Charley Boorman, in preparation for and entry into the 2006 Dakar Rally.