The Dakar Rally or simply The Dakar, formerly known as The Paris–Dakar or Paris to Dakar Rally, is an annual rally raid type of off-road automobile race, organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America (Argentina and Chile). It was the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa. It has stayed in South America from 2009 to the present, 2012. The race is open to amateur and professional entries. Amateurs typically make up about eighty percent of the participants.
Despite its name it is an off-road endurance race, called a rally-raid rather than a conventional rally, 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.
2012 rally attract more than 500 teams and are currently speeding across the deserts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru, racing more than 8,300 km (5,150 mi) in the 33rd annual Dakar Rally. Competitors pit themselves against the elements, driving specialized off-road cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes through challenging terrain for two weeks.
One rider, Argentine Jorge Martinez Boero, has already died this year in a crash. The 2012 Dakar Rally began in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on January 1, and racers will reach the finish line in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, January 15, after which I will add a few more photos to complete coverage of this year's competition.
|Stefan Svitko rides his KTM during the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally 2012, from Iquique to Arica, Chile, on January 11, 2012. (Reuters/Jerome Prevot)|
|All the motorbike riders pose for a group photo during preparations for the 2012 Dakar Rally in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on December 31, 2011. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)|
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