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Morocco Paris Dakar Rally
The Paris Dakar Rally is the most famous and most dangerous two week international car race in the world. Every year people get lost or killed during it. Of the whole race, there is only a two day rest period, most of which is spent working on getting the vehicle to run to its maximum capacity. To survive, the best expert navigational skills and the highest level of endurance strength are essential.
The first Paris Dakar Rally took place in 1979 however since Morocco was placed on the route’s map in 1993, the Rally takes racers through France – Spain – Morocco – Western Sahara – Mauritania – Mali – Burkina – Faso– Mauritania – Senegal. This particular route totals 11,147 km (7000 miles).
The first few days of the event are considered more of a liaison or a warm up stage, and crowds gather-by the road until the bottom of Andalusia, Spain to cheer on the competitors. However, once racers leave the comfortable European terrains, the course becomes wild and extreme.
In the Paris Dakar 2005 rally, over 500 teams competed across 7,000 miles. Only 40% made it to the finish.
Amongst the many countries that the race takes place in, Morocco is said to be the most challenging and consequently a highlight due to its unforgiving yet adventurous terrains.
There are three stages in Morocco, each about 300 miles long. These include the 252 kilometer route from Nador to Errachidia, the second stage takes the competitors from Errachidia to Ouarzazate, a distance of just over 400 kilometers and the final phase is a 325 kilometer trip between Ouarzazate and Tan Tan. Many competitors drop out along one of the three Moroccan stages.
Past drivers and participants describe driving through the Sahara Desert in Morocco as a place like no other. Only the toughest racers can survive. Temperatures average 130 degrees and extreme dehydration may result in death.
The Paris Dakar was invented by a Frenchman, Thierry Sabine. Every year, around 500 teams made up of mostly amateur and some professional racers seeking excitement rumble through Morocco’s desert. All around the world, there are so many people desiring to race that applications begin to be rejected six months before the start of the race.
The main categories in the race are: large trucks, automobiles and motorcycles. Alongside these racers are around two-hundred supporting vehicles.
Past winners and popular racers include Hubert Auriol who won his first title in 1992; he later became the first driver to win both in an automobile and on a motorbike. Later on, Stéphane Peterhansel managed to do the same winning eight Dakar titles in the car and motorbike categories. In 2001, Jutta Kleinschmidt and her co-driver Andreas Schulz were the first women to win the Dakar, driving a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. In 2006, Patsy Quick became the first woman to complete the Dakar on a motorcycle.
Some Dakar events that have made headlines in recent years include the Mark Thatcher, the English Prime Minster’s son getting lost in the desert for six days (1982) and several accidents and deaths amongst both the competitors and local people.
As a result of these events, organizers have imposed a speed limit of 95 mph for motorcyclists and 30 mph for all drivers when passing through villages. New Paris Dakar safety and accident prevention includes a team dedicated to traffic issues and anticipating potential problems. They will be present throughout the race.
The Paris Dakar race has been really helpful for Morocco’s tourism and raising cultural awareness for Morocco throughout the world. In recentyears, viewers were able to see parts of the Sahara because the rally is usually broadcast on more than seventy-five channels and in nearly one hundred eighty countries.
The 2008 Dakar Rally along its traditional route in North Africa was canceled on January 4, 2008 due to fears of terrorist attacks. As a result, other countries offered their territories. The 2008 Paris Dakar Rally took place Hungary-Romania between April 20 to April 26. Next year, the Dakar will take place in South America, with Buenos Aires as its starting point.