Post by kerouac2 on Jan 6, 2018 20:15:53 GMT
This is the 40th anniversary of the Dakar rally. I have absolutely no interest in motor sports, but this one has always interested me, obviously not because of the cars, motorcycles and trucks but because of the adventure. For the first 30 years, it really did go from Paris to Dakar, starting on New Year's day. I went to Place de la Concorde at 7 a.m. on the 3rd or 4th year to see the departure, and it was really exciting to see all of these people driving to Africa through hell and high water for about three weeks. It was not easy. People died, including careless spectators. A lot of it was through the Sahara. The teams would get lost, stuck in the sand. Helicopoters would go looking for them. There was suspense. When was the last time that a sporting event had real suspense?
At the beginning of the 21st century, things became complicated. There were terrorist threats, certain stages had to be cancelled and the participants airlifted over the dangerous areas. The departure point shifted over the years, but in 2008 the whole rally was cancelled for security reasons, with 2500 participants and support staff waiting to leave in Lisbon. Africa had to be abandoned.
So now, the name has remained but the Dakar takes place in South America. It has nasty deserts, flooded areas, terrible terrain. The adventure continues, but I really regret that it has strayed from its origins, even though it is not its fault. I still watch bits and pieces and it is "almost" as fascinating as ever. I say "almost" because technology has removed more and more of the adventure and the danger from the event. Nobody can get lost anymore, and when they get stuck or injured somewhere, help is on the way immediately.
It still makes for some exceptional images. The 2018 edition started today, departing from Lima, Peru.
Here are some highlights from last year's rally.