The Dakar Rally, organised by Amaury Sport Organisation, is one of the world’s most anticipated motorsports events every year. The Dakar consists of one stage per day that contains at least one ‘special’ each day of several hundred kilometres and can either be on or off-road. The event typically lasts for ten to fifteen days covering several thousand kilometres. Why is it called the Dakar Rally? Wilken Motorsport is here to share some of the event’s history.

How The Dakar Rally Began

An accident gave rise to the Dakar Rally. In 1977, Thierry Sabine, a French rider competing in the Abidjan-Nice rally, got lost in the Tenere Desert in South-Central Sahara. While trying to regain his bearings, Sabine realised that the desert would make a fantastic proving ground for a long-distance rally. Once he arrived back from his adventure, he considered organising some type of off-road endurance event.

The First Dakar Rally

The first Paris To Dakar was held 26 December 1978, with 182 participants lining up for the race. Only 74 of those riders finished the approximately 6,200-mile journey, thus giving rise to the Dakar Rally.

The Dakar Rally Today

This sport has produced innumerable sporting and human stories over the past thirty years. It has been a unique event sparked by a spirit of adventure and a message of friendship among all men.

The majority of adventure bikes, quads and rally cars that line up never make it to the finish line, with some years seeing a finish rate as low as 20%. Injury and mechanical failure are the two most common causes that end a competition, but the Dakar has also claimed more than 70 lives since the race’s inception.

Why Is It Called The Dakar Rally?

Originally, the Dakar Rally spanned Paris to Dakar and was appropriately dubbed “The Paris to Dakar Rally”. Today, the legendary rally raid is commonly referred to as the “Dakar Rally.” Though the rally’s location has changed over the years, it is one of, if not the most, gruelling motorsport event in the world. The Dakar Rally grew increasingly popular over the years, attracting elite racers as well as large sponsors. Each event has since become more sophisticated and organised.