If we were to use one word to describe the Dakar Rally in one word, it would be grueling, intense, wild, crazy, or exciting. Since its establishment in 1978 by Thierry Sabine, the Dakar Rally is an annual rally organized by the Amaury Sport Organization. It has been run uninterrupted except for the 2008 rally, which was canceled due to security threats in Mauritania.
The rally is exceptionally rough, more than what you would find in your typical rally. The cars are off-road vehicles rather than modified on-road vehicles. The majority of the special competitive sections are off-road and includes rocks, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, and other terrain.
The Dakar Rally started in Paris, France and ended in Dakar, Senegal. But since its cancellation in 2008, the rally was moved to South America in 2009 and that is where it has been taking place ever since.
To enter the competition, you need to own an off-road car that will endure the extreme sections of the rally. About 80% of the participants are amateurs. The sections that the competition covers can be up to 800-900 km per day.
The competition saw a rise in popularity in the mid-2000s. The very first event that took place in 1978 had 170 competitors. By 2001 the number of competitors rose to 358. By 2004, the entry list increased to 595. In 2005, there was a record 688 competitors running for the Dakar Rally glory.
The starting city of the rally has been changing to provide a challenging route to Dakar. The 2004 event was from Clemont-Ferrand to Dakar, whereas the 2005 race began in Barcelona.
Many car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and Mitsubishi have their cars added to the competition as they go face-to-face with each other.
There are four major competitive squads in the Dakar Rally: motorcycle, quads, cars, and trucks.