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  #1  
Old 01-19-2014, 10:41 AM
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Default Was the 2014 Dakar Rally the toughest ever?

http://www.redbull.com/en/motorsport...st-dakar-rally

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It's been said the 2014 Dakar Rally was one of the toughest of all time. Let's weigh up the facts.
Dakar 2014: The hardest ever?
After the 5th and 6th stages of the Dakar Rally 2014 some voices were raised claiming it was the hardest Dakar ever...True?

By Stage Six some 70 riders had quit the race having faced a marathon stage and two days’ rallying with no technical support. “This time, they’ve gone too far,” they said, claiming that the organisers had made the world’s toughest race too tough.

They may have had a point – as several factors combined to make this one of the toughest contests in the long history of the Dakar.
enlarge
Dakar retirements graph 1979-2014

Percentage of retirements in the Dakar 1979-2014© Redbull.com / Source:ASO
Unseasonably hot weather that saw the mercury pushing 50°C didn’t help. The layout of the stages also demanded a lot of the competitors: there were some of the longest stages since the Dakar moved to South America, and heavy rains in the days before the start in Rosario had reshaped the trails.

As the number of withdrawals mounted up – including high profile competitors like Sam Sunderland and Francisco Lopez – concerns about safety grew bigger. But is it the hardest ever?

Withdrawals
"If everybody finished the race, it wouldn't be the Dakar", says David Castera, sporting director of the toughest rally-raid in the world. Withdrawals, he explains, are part of the race.

According to the archives, the record for competitors quitting the race was set at the 2005 Barcelona-Dakar when 473 withdrew. The second highest was Paris-Algeria-Dakar in 1988 when 452 athletes didn't reach the finish line in Lake Rose. But there were more competitors taking part in both those rallies with 688 and 603 in all classes.
enlarge
Longest recorded distances on the Dakar 1979-2014

Longest recorded distances on the Dakar 1979-2014© Redbull.com / Source: ASO
More competitors, more withdrawals. But what about the rate at which they retired: does that better indicate how the Dakar challenged competitors? In the 1986 Paris-Algeria-Dakar out of 486 starters, only 100 vehicles reached the race end, a rate of 80% withdrawals.

In 2014, 216 vehicles have given up before finishing, 50% of the starting list and more than any other Dakar in South America, but far from the rate when they raced in Africa.

Stage length
Among all the criticisms, the majority have been directed at the length of the stages. Stage Five, the 911km marathon from Chilecito to Tucumán is the longest since 2006, but not a record. That was set on day two of the very first Paris-Dakar in 1979. The competitors rallied across Algeria from Algiers in the North to Tamanrasset in the South – some 2,370km. No mean feat for 1979.

Carlos Sainz-VW-Touareg-Dakar-2006

Carlos Sainz behind VW Touareg's wheel in 2006 © Pablo Bueno
The second longest stage in the history of the rally was Stage 16 in the 1986 Paris-Algeria-Dakar in which competitors had to drive right 1,656 km from Kiffa in Mauritania to Saint Louis in Senegal.

When you consider the total length of the Dakar, then 1986 takes the record again with a colossal 15,000 km – exactly 1,000km more than the second highest in 1985.

Ever since the Paris-Dakar in 2001, the route has been less than 10,000 km. If we only take timed special stages into account, then the 1990 Paris-Tripoli-Dakar is the leader with 8,564 km followed by the 1987 Paris-Algeria-Dakar with 8,315 km – almost the total length of the last 12 editions of the desert-classic.

The most tragedies
The Dakar is the Marmite of motorsport: you either love it or you hate it. When the Rally went from Europe to Africa, critics said it was no better than a group of rich playboys racing around poor villages and towns without a care for the local inhabitants. The counter argument ran that racers carried out numerous charity activities and the race shone a spotlight on countries that seldom made headlines in the rich West.
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Thierry Sabine on the Dakar Rally in 1986

Thierry Sabine helicopter© DPPI
The Dakar Rally has also been dogged by the threat of terrorism. Four stages were taken out of the Dakar-Cairo Rally in 2000 due to terrorist threats and when in 2008, the Lisbon-Dakar Rally had to be suspended due to threats from jihadist terrorists, the event left Africa behind for a Brave New World in South America.

1986: The hardest ever
To sum up, there’s no doubt that the toughest Dakar Rally of all time was the 1986 Paris-Algeria-Dakar edition. Just finishing the race was down to pure luck more than anything.

From the 486 who took the start in Versailles just 100 reached the end – that’s 21%. Those 100 finishers raced across a total of 15,000km (the longest ever) and 7,731km of timed special stages (the third longest). Of the 18 stages, five were more than 900km, including one at a massive 1,656km.

Dakar 1986 was also the most tragic, with a total of seven deaths, including the Rally's founder Thierry Sabine, who died in a helicopter accident.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:26 AM
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Would have been even more cool had it actually been held between Dakar and Paris like before, but thanks to al qaeda and the tuareg thugs all that changed.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:54 AM
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Tuareg are not thugs, some are perhaps but there are also those who are united in the fight against foreign fueled Islamist extremism in their areas.
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All battles do culminate in ending a war;
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:47 PM
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Tuaregs are not thugs, I have Tuareg friends, but the ones who ruined the dakar rally were tuareg thugs. Part of a band of Tuareg pirates who have been stealing trucks and goods from the Dakar Rally several times. Disrupted the rally so many times. I know because I was right in that area having to handle the consequences of that, so Its bloody personal what happened.

These Tuaregs were not al qaeda or islamists, they are simply bandits who have been attacking foreigners time and again to steal their goods.

They just happened to choose the wrong moment while al qaeda was kidnapping and killing French people in Mauritania to also steal, that was too much and the whole rally was cancelled and money going to africa was now withdrawn because of it, as the rally had brought alot of money to the place.
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:48 PM
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MSN Cars joined the 2014 Dakar Rally and shadowed the Race2Recovery team - a squad of injured ex-servicemen who've banded together to take on the monstrous challenge of the world's toughest motor race. The team included amputees and veterans from Afghanistan, all desperate to make the finish line two countries, a fortnight and 5,000 miles later. This is the story of how they got on.

The startline podium for the 2014 Dakar Rally was in Rosario, Argentina. Race2Recovery entered two Wildcat rally cars and a supporting race truck, known in Dakar parlance as a T4. This podium is really all about satiating egos – everyone gets introduced to the huge crowds and everyone gets to do their best ‘rally driver walk’.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=1
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All battles do culminate in ending a war;
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:50 PM
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Race2Recovery is made up of seriously injured servicemen and volunteers. Each of the rally cars and the truck contained either an amputee driver or co-driver. The team manager, Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor, had also been seriously injured, by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. This was the team’s second crack at the Dakar – last year co-driver Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie became the first amputee ever to finish the event when he partnered Major Matt O’Hare in a Wildcat.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=2



The Wildcat is based (loosely) on a Land Rover Defender. There’s a tubular steel chassis, high- and low-ratio gearboxes and a 4.2-litre Jaguar V8 in the nose. They’re designed to cope with thousands of miles of physical abuse in some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain. A normal rally car would barely last a day.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=3



Race2Recovery bought their T4 rally truck off the French Dakar team, Boucou. It weighs 14 tonnes and is based on a Renault Kerax quarry truck. It still has electric windows and a plastic steering wheel in a near-horizontal position like a London bus. Although the truck enters the rally in its own right and does the same route as the cars, its primary purpose is to support the two rally cars. Parts and equipment are stored in the back.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=4



The rally crews were supported by a dedicated team of mechanics who travelled from bivouac to bivouac along the service route. A huge, eight-wheeler truck was accompanied by two Discovery vehicles provided by the team sponsor, Land Rover. All service vehicles drive over 7,000km in two weeks to complete the Dakar.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=5
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All our wars in air or in water are of NO worth;
if we haven’t so far learnt to live on earth.
All battles do culminate in ending a war;
A war generating battles is ‘curse’ not ‘mirth’.

At that time, I will search out and destroy all of the nations who have come against Jerusalem - Zechariah 12:9
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:53 PM
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Each day on the Dakar is broken up into road or ‘liaison’ sections and a special stage. The distances are extraordinary and fatigue is one of the biggest challenges facing every crew. The total distance for this year’s rally was 9,209km and the longest special stage for the cars measured 694km.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=6



Stage two of the rally, from San Luis to San Rafael, was the first significant test and introduced the sand dunes that are a signature feature of the Dakar. Sadly for amputee driver Tony Harris and co-driver Quin Evans, it was to prove their undoing. Harris misjudged a razor-edge dune and rolled his Wildcat end-over-end. The car landed on its wheels and they were able to continue to the stage finish but the mechanics discovered irreparable damage to the rollcage. They would go no further.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=7



On the same stage, the second Wildcat, which was driven by team director Ben Gott and co-driven by amputee Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie, was also forced out of the rally. The car had experienced overheating problems on day one and these continued on the second day until the car suffered a broken head gasket. It was assisted by the Race2Recovery truck but had to retire.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=8



With both of the team’s rally cars out of the Dakar, attention focused on the truck. Instead of needing to support the rally cars it would now be free to run its own race. Inside were a crew of three: driver Mark Cullum is an off-road expert who once finished second in the famous Camel Trophy; co-driver Chris Ratter is an ace mechanic and successful amateur rally driver, and amputee Corporal Daniel ‘Baz’ Whittingham assisted with navigation and controlled the on-board tyre inflation system – a crucial tool for navigating soft sand.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...ally-3#image=9



Life in the bivouac is hardly glamorous. The top teams and drivers enjoy luxurious motorhomes, but everyone else kips on the floor in pop-up tents surrounded by a cacophony of generators and power tools. After a while, these tents start to feel like a protective cocoon and it’s amazing where you can sleep when you’re exhausted.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=10



The Dakar often looks like a scene from the movie Mad Max. There are all sorts of weird creations, from tiny Polaris buggies to the bespoke trucks, which look downright terrifying.

http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=11
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All our wars in air or in water are of NO worth;
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All battles do culminate in ending a war;
A war generating battles is ‘curse’ not ‘mirth’.

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Old 02-01-2014, 01:55 PM
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http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=12

When the truck was on the special stage, the service crew were not allowed to support it. Should anything break, the race crew had to fix it themselves. “The Dakar is as much about problem solving as it is about driving,” says Mark Cullum. On a supersized truck, this was no easy task – replacing a punctured tyre was a huge ask of an exhausted trio.



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=13

There’s no dispensation for amateurs – everyone faces the same stage. While the leading contenders, including former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz, complete the stage in a handful of hours, the Race2Recovery truck would take all day and most of the night. The mechanics would then set to work in the early hours, while the crew tried to snatch some sleep.



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=14

The rest day in Salta, Argentina, was the first target for every competitor. The organisers were concerned that last year’s Dakar was too easy, so they made this year’s event much tougher. Maybe too tough: by the rest day only 53% of those who started were still in the rally.



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=15

Co-driver ‘Baz’ was working with a bomb disposal team when he was blown up in Afghanistan four years ago. His pelvis was shattered and he lost his left leg below the knee. “There were some tough times, but it’s also brought some opportunities,” he says. “Lying in a hospital bed they told me there was a good chance I’d never walk again, but here I am doing the Dakar.” On the road liaison stages, Baz would often drive the truck, relieving Cullum and Ratter.



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=16

The Dakar rules are less restrictive than the World Rally Championship’s, so the engineers have the freedom to dream up some eccentric creations. Carlos Sainz’s Red Bull buggy was a personal favourite, although it didn’t last the distance. Mini’ locked out the podium overall held seven of the top 10 places, even is ‘Mini’ is a bit of a fib – they’re as big as a BMW X5.
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All our wars in air or in water are of NO worth;
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All battles do culminate in ending a war;
A war generating battles is ‘curse’ not ‘mirth’.

At that time, I will search out and destroy all of the nations who have come against Jerusalem - Zechariah 12:9
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:57 PM
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http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=17

This is what yours truly used to cover the Dakar. Our Land Rover Freelander was turned into a mobile media unit with an Inmarsat satellite phone, an on-board charging station, a sophisticated GPS system that allowed us to track to specific co-ordinates and even an Inmarsat BGAN satellite system so we could set up a mobile wi-fi hotspot at a moment’s notice anywhere we went – genius.

One little tip though: if you’re following the Dakar invest in some proper all-terrain tyres. South American roads often turn to dirt and standard road tyres puncture all too easily.



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=18

In week two, the Dakar crossed the Andes from Argentina to Chile and the Atacama desert. The remaining competitors now faced some of the world’s biggest sand dunes. “Some of them were as tall as three houses,” said Whittingham, “and the drop-offs were terrifying. Get it wrong by just a few feet and you can be rolling to oblivion. We’d say to each other, ‘Don’t go left, that means plummety plummety death.’”



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=19

Being an amputee on the Dakar brings its own challenges. Before heading out on a stage, Whittingham would meticulously clean his stump and prosthetic limb. “You need to avoid getting an ingrowing hair,” he said, “they can be incredibly painful and you run the risk of infection.”



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=20

By the end of the second week, the crew’s exhaustion was self-evident. The mechanics would lay out campbeds in the paddock and they would collapse onto them, still in their racesuits. Then they’d be woken up with 10 minutes to go and poured back into the cab. “You have to call on all your reserves,” reckoned Ratter. “Everyone has these reserves but you never normally get to access them.”



http://autos.in.msn.com/gallery/insi...lly-3#image=21

After a truly herculean effort, the truck crossed the finish line near Valparaíso, Argentina, having completed 9,207km. “This is the toughest driving challenge I’ve ever done,” said Cullum at the finish, while Ratter reckoned it was, “the hardest thing I’ve ever taken on.” Whittingham becomes the first amputee trucker ever to finish the Dakar. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I was told I’d never walk again and now I’ve finished the Dakar.”
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All our wars in air or in water are of NO worth;
if we haven’t so far learnt to live on earth.
All battles do culminate in ending a war;
A war generating battles is ‘curse’ not ‘mirth’.

At that time, I will search out and destroy all of the nations who have come against Jerusalem - Zechariah 12:9
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