Look way beyond f1 to get the international motorsport season off to an epic start
For the average motor sport enthusiast, one who gets his/her fix from television, January is a lean time with the start of a Formula 1 season still some time away and reading about pre-season testing on the web just doesn’t quite cut it. But oh is there a way to get said ‘fix’ and then some if one were to broaden their horizons just a tad.
January is in fact quite a blockbuster month as far as motorsport is concerned as it is headlined by the Dakar Rally, i.e. the toughest endurance-based motorsport test that can be dished out to both its automotive and human participants.
As has been the case since 2009, the Dakar Rally (technically rally raid) will be held in South America, starting from Argentina before finishing in Chile via Bolivia.
By the time you first pick up this issue, the start of the 9,000 km test of grueling cross country rallying will be just a couple of weeks away. A car/bike/truck/quad breaking 5,000 of those 9,000 kms will be competitive special stages where competitors race against the clock. Having to do this for 15 days, over 300 kms of special stages a day on average, is as long or longer than many single-location based three-day rallies.
And aside from heavily modified (almost prototype) versions of SUVs, bikes, trucks and even quads, it takes a special kind of madness from a human perspective to put oneself through such a test and come out wanting to do it all over again.
For ‘Mr. Dakar’, ten-time Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel (six on a bike, four with a car) there is nothing more to it than just riding or driving as much as possible and staying physically and mentally in shape.
Not something mere mortals can relate to that easily given that the rally usually sees one serious injury or fatality a year, even in this time of motorsport being perceived to be ‘safe’ due to F1’s progress on the safety front.
The brunt of this is faced by the two wheel participants who often are faster than their four wheel counterparts.
Keep that in mind when you see Cyril Despres, Nani Roma and co. defy death during the excellently produced daily highlight shows of the Dakar Rally this year.