The Dakar Rally (or simply "The Dakar"; formerly known as "The Paris Dakar" or "Paris to Dakar Rally" and now as "The Lisboa Dakar") is an annual off-road race, organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. 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 sedans used in rallies. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and Erg (landform) among others. The distances of each stage covered vary from several Kilometers up to 800 to 900 kilometers (500–560 mi) per day.

History and routeEdit

The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the Desert and decided that it would be a good location for a regular rally. Originally, the rally was from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, interrupted by a transfer across the Mediterranean. However, due to politics and other factors, the course, including origin and destination, has varied over the years. Dakar has been the destination city on all but four occasions. The rally began at Paris each year until 1995. In 1994 the rally both began and ended in Paris, but due to complaints by the mayor, the finish had to be moved from the Champs-Élysées to Euro Disney. This also caused the organisation to lay out the rally through different locations in following years.

Complete list of routesEdit

  • 1979–1980: Paris–Dakar
  • 1981–1988: Paris–Algiers–Dakar
  • 1989: Paris–Tunis–Dakar
  • 1990–1991: Paris–Tripoli–Dakar
  • 1992: Paris–Cape Town
  • 1993: Paris–Dakar
  • 1994: Paris–Dakar–Paris
  • 1995–1996: Granada–Dakar
  • 1997: Dakar–Agadez–Dakar
  • 1998: Paris–Granada–Dakar
  • 1999: Granada–Dakar
  • 2000: Dakar–Cairo
  • 2001: Paris–Dakar
  • 2002: Arras–Madrid–Dakar
  • 2003: Marseille–Sharm el-Sheikh
  • 2004: Clermont-Ferrand–Dakar
  • 2005: Barcelona–Dakar
  • 2006: Lisbon–Dakar
  • 2007: Lisbon–Dakar
  • 2008: cancelled
  • 2009: Argentina–Chile–Argentina

Recent rallies pass through Morocco, Western Sahara and on to the grasslands and deserts of Mauritania. The segments running through Atar and the sand dunes and canyons of Mauritania's Adrar Region may be the most challenging in all Off-road racing.

In 1992, Hubert Auriol won the Dakar in an automobile after having previously won the Motorcycle competition on two occasions, making him the first driver to win on both two and four wheels. Later on, Stéphane Peterhansel managed to do the same. In 2001, Jutta Kleinschmidt was the first woman to win the Dakar, driving a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero, co-driving with fellow German Andreas Schulz. In 2006, Patsy Quick became the first British woman to complete the Dakar (on a motorcycle).

The 2008 was canceled on January 4, 2008 amid fears of terrorist attack(s). This caused serious doubts over the future of the rally. Various newspapers in Africa called the cancellation a "death sentence" for the race. Chile and Argentina, in South America, offered their territory to host the event, as well as the Czech Republic, or Hungary in Central Europe. The ASO finally decided to establish the Dakar Series competition, which first event is the 2008 Central Europe (Hungary-Romania), between April 20 and April 26 2008. The 2009 event will organized in the two South American countries, between January 3-18, 2009. Group 2 is Super-Production bikes, which are more substantially modified than Marathon bikes, subdivided between engines of greater and less than 451 cc. The Open class accepts weight-qualifying vehicles such as SCORE International trucks. They are divided into two groups, T4 and T5.

T4 class trucks participate in the competition, while T5 trucks travel from bivouac to bivouac to support the competition vehicles.

Six people were killed during the 1988 race, three participants and three local residents. In one incident, Baye Sibi, a 10-year-old Malian girl, was killed by a racer while she crossed a road. A film crew's vehicle killed a mother and daughter in Mauritania on the last day of the race. The race participants killed, in three separate crashes, were a Dutch navigator on the DAF team, a France Privateer (motorsport), and a French Motorcycle. Racers were also blamed for starting a Wildfire that caused a panic on a train running between Dakar and Bamako, where three more people were killed.

In 2005, Spanish motorcyclist José Manuel Pérez died in a Spanish hospital on Monday, January 10 after crashing the week before on the 7th stage. Italian motorcyclist Fabrizio Meoni, a two-time winner of the event, became the second Dakar Rally rider to die in two days, following Pérez on January 11 on stage 11. Meoni was the 11th motorcyclist and the 45th competitor overall to die in the history of the race. On January 13, a five-year-old Senegalese girl was crushed beneath the wheels of a Service lorry after wandering onto a main road, bringing the total deaths to five. Many other African non-participants are said to have been killed because of the Dakar rally, but unlike the participants, no official figures are available and the names of the victims are usually not given.

In 2006, 41 year old Australia KTM motorcyclist Andy Caldecott, in his third time in the Dakar, died January 9 as a result of neck injuries received in a crash approximately 250 km (155 mi) into stage 9, between Nouakchott and Kiffa, only a few kilometers from the location where Meoni had his fatal wreck the year before. He won the third stage of the 2006 event between Nador and Er Rachidia only a few days before his death. The death occurred despite efforts by the event organisers to improve competitor safety, including speed limits, mandatory rest at fuel stops, and reduced fuel capacity requirements for the bike classes. On January 13, a 10-year old boy died while crossing the course after being hit by a car driven by Latvian Māris Saukāns, while on January 14 a 12-year old boy was killed after being hit by a support lorry.

In 2007, 29-year old South African motor racer Elmer Symons died of injuries sustained in a crash during the fourth stage of the Rally. Symons crashed with his bike in the desert between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, Morocco. Another death occurred on January 20, the night before the race's finish, when 42-year-old motorcyclist Eric Aubijoux died suddenly. The cause of death was initially believed to be a heart attack, however it was later suggested that Aubijoux died of internal injuries sustained in a crash earlier that day while competing in the 14th stage of the race.

The 2008 was cancelled due to security concerns after the Al-Qaeda based murder of four French tourists on Christmas eve in December 2007 in Mauritania (a country in which the rally spends eight days), accusations against the rally calling it "neo-colonialist," and accusations against Mauritania calling it a supporter of "crusaders, apostates and infidels", the France-based Amaury Sport Organisation, in charge of the rally, said in a statement they had been advised by the French government to cancel the race which was due to begin on January 5, 2008, from Lisbon. They said direct threats had also been made against the event by al-Qaeda related organizations.

Omar Osama bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, recently attracted widespread news coverage by promoting himself as an "ambassador of peace" and proposing a horse race across North Africa as a replacement to the Dakar Rally, with sponsors' money going to support child victims of war, saying "I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida. I don't think they are going to stop me."

The Dakar Rally had been held uninterrupted since 1979 although there have been regular calls for its cancellation over security fears and the danger the fast-driving vehicles pose to local populations.


The race has been subject to criticism from several sources, generally focusing on the race's impact on the inhabitants of the countries through which it passes. The environmental impact of the race has been another issue. This rejection of the race is notably the topic of the song "500 connards sur la ligne de départ" ("500 Assholes at the Starting Line"), by France singer Renaud. But recent figures show that throughout the whole of two weeks of racing, with over 500 vehicles competing, the carbon emissions of The Paris Dakar are approximately that of a single Formula 1 race.

The rally was criticised for crossing through the disputed, non-decolonized territory of Western Sahara, without consulting the Polisario Front, which is considered representative of the Sahrawi people. After the race officials began asking for formal permission from the Polisario from 2000 onwards, this has not been an issue.

After the 1988 race, when three Africans were killed in collisions with vehicles involved in the race, PANA, a Dakar-based News agency, wrote that the deaths were "insignificant for the [race's] organizers". The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano called the race a "vulgar display of power and wealth in places where men continue to die from hunger and thirst." During a 2002 protest at the race's start in Arras, France, a The Greens (France) of France statement described the race as "colonialism that needs to be eradicated".

Some residents along the race's course have said they see limited benefits from the race; that race participants spend little money on the goods and services local residents can offer. The racers produce substantial amounts of dust along the course, and are blamed for hitting and killing livestock, in addition to occasionally injuring or killing people.

List of winnersEdit

Year Cars Motorcycles Trucks Route
Manufacturer Rider Manufacturer Driver Manufacturer
2007 Stéphane Peterhansel
Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Cyril Despres KTM Hans Stacey MAN Lisbon-Dakar
2006 Luc Alphand
Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero Marc Coma KTM Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Lisbon-Dakar
2005 Stéphane Peterhansel
Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero Cyril Despres KTM LC4 660R Firdaus Kabirov Kamaz Barcelona-Dakar
2004 Stéphane Peterhansel
Jean-Paul Cottret
Mitsubishi Pajero Nani Roma KTM LC4 660R Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Clermont-Ferrand-Dakar
2003 Hiroshi Masuoka
Andrea Schulz
Mitsubishi Pajero Richard Sainct KTM LC4 660R Firdaus Kabirov Kamaz Marseille-Sharm el Sheikh
2002 Hiroshi Masuoka
Pascal Maimon
Mitsubishi Pajero Fabrizio Meoni KTM Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Arras-Madrid-Dakar
2001 Jutta Kleinschmidt
Andrea Schulz
Mitsubishi Pajero Fabrizio Meoni KTM LC4 660R Karel Loprais Tatra (car) Paris-Dakar
2000 Jean-Louis Schlesser
Henri Magne
Jean-Louis Schlesser Richard Sainct BMW F650RR Vladimir Chagin Kamaz Paris-Dakar-Cairo
1999 Jean-Louis Schlesser
Philippe Monnet
Schlesser-Renault Buggy Richard Sainct BMW F650RR Karel Loprais Tatra Granada-Dakar
1998 Jean-Pierre Fontenay
Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Karel Loprais Tatra Paris-Granada-Dakar
1997 Kenjiro Shinozuka
Henri Magne
Mitsubishi Pajero Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Peter Reif Hino Dakar-Agades-Dakar
1996 Pierre Lartigue
Michel Perin
Citroën Edi Orioli Yamaha YZE850T Viktor Moskovskikh Kamaz Granada-Dakar
1995 Pierre Lartigue
Michel Perin
Citroën ZX Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Karel Loprais Tatra Granada-Dakar
1994 Pierre Lartigue
Michel Perin
Citroën ZX Edi Orioli Cagiva Elefant 900 Karel Loprais Tatra Paris-Dakar-Paris
1993 Bruno Saby
Dominique Seriyes
Mitsubishi Pajero Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T France Perlini Paris-Dakar
1992 Hubert Auriol
Philippe Monnet
Mitsubishi Pajero Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE850T Francesco Perlini Perlini Paris-Sirte-Cape Town
1991 Ari Vatanen
Bruno Berglund
Citroën ZX Stéphane Peterhansel Yamaha YZE750T Jacques Houssat Perlini Paris-Tripoli-Dakar
1990 Ari Vatanen
Bruno Berglund
Peugeot Edi Orioli Cagiva Elefant 900 Villa Perlini Paris-Tripoli-Dakar
1989 Ari Vatanen
Bruno Berglund
Peugeot 405 T16 Gilles Lalay Honda NXR800V     Paris-Tunis-Dakar
1988 Juha Kankkunen
Juha Piironen
Peugeot Edi Orioli Honda NXR800V Karel Loprais Tatra Paris-Algiers-Dakar
1987 Ari Vatanen
Bernard Giroux
Peugeot 205 T16 Cyril Neveu Honda NXR750V Jan de Rooy DAF Paris-Alger-Dakar
1986 René Metge
Dominique Lemoyne
Porsche Cyril Neveu Honda NXR750V Giacomo Vismara Mercedes-Benz G Paris-Alger-Dakar
1985 Patrick Zaniroli
Jean Da Silva
Mitsubishi Pajero Gaston Rahier BMW GS980R Karl-Friedrich Capito Mercedes-Benz Paris-Alger-Dakar
1984 René Metge
Dominique Lemoyne
Porsche Gaston Rahier BMW GS980R Pierre Lalleu Mercedes-Benz Paris-Alger-Dakar
1983 Jacky Ickx
Claude Brasseur
Mercedes-Benz G Hubert Auriol BMW GS980R Georges Groine Mercedes-Benz Paris-Alger-Dakar
1982 Claude Marreau
Bernard Marreau
Renault Cyril Neveu Honda XR550 Georges Groine Mercedes-Benz Paris-Alger-Dakar
1981 René Metge
Bernard Giroux
Range Rover Hubert Auriol BMW GS800R Adrien Villette ALM/ACMAT Paris-Dakar
1980 Freddy Kottulinsky
Gerd Löffelmann
Volkswagen Iltis Cyril Neveu Yamaha XT500 Ataouat Sonacome Paris-Dakar
1979 Alain Génestier
Joseph Terbiaut
Range Rover Cyril Neveu Yamaha XT500     Paris-Dakar

External linksEdit