Dakar Rally To Start On Saturday In Lima, Peru, Return To Africa Unlikely
The legendary Dakar Rally will start on Saturday and send its participants through the deserts and mountains of South America, according to Philipp Albrechtsberger of the KURIER. It will be the fifth consecutive time the rally "will take place in South America after terror threats led to an abandonment of its original route through West Africa that was last used in '07." However, terror threats "are not the only reason why a return to West Africa seems highly unlikely." The route through the Sahara desert was "as legendary as remote" and, therefore, was only sparsely attended. The Dakar's South America premiere on the other hand "had 4 million visitors." In addition, "a booming South American continent fits better into the marketing concepts of sponsors and manufacturers." Throughout the year, organizers advertise the event with show appearances from Warsaw, Poland via Beijing to Botswana. Only the adventure side "has been lost." The drivers "used to love the dangers of the African seclusion." French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, who won the Dakar 10 times on two and four wheels, said, "Africa was adventure, South America is sport. We drive past McDonald's and cities every day. If somebody has a problem with his vehicle, he is never all by himself. We are too close to civilization." However, death "is a permanent co-driver." The race, even though in South America, "is still a beast that especially devours semi-professionals and amateurs." On average two participants die each year at the Dakar. However, almost everybody can fulfill his dream of starting in the Dakar. The starting fee for an amateur in the motorcycle category is about €60,000 ($79,000) (KURIER, 1/1).