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Dakar 101 – DeZert vs. Dakar

Often times while watching the Dakar (Da-Kar) you might not really understand what is actually going on.  Here is a run down of a comparison between desert racing and Rally Raid racing.

Picture yourself racing every single SCORE race, every single BITD race and a smaller loop race like Battle at Primm.  Now take all of those races combined, run them every day (one right after the other) with only one rest day about half way through.  If your car made it to the finish in one piece after following all of the general rules, you would have completed the Dakar Rally.  Unlike desert racing here in the states, there are no driver changes, no co-rider changes, and no bike rider changes.  If your driver gets sick and cannot race, you are out of the race.  If your bike rider gets hurt and is unable to finish one of the day stages your Dakar is done.

The Monster X-Raid team before the race.
The Monster X-Raid team before the race.

If you run the SCORE Baja 1000, the sanctioning body is SCORE International.  If you run the Dakar Rally the organizing body is the ASO (Amaury Sport Organization).  Often times we hear about the ASO and never really understand what they do exactly, lets be frank; they don’t mess around when it comes to rules.

A day before the Baja 1000 you can make your way to the pretty face at PCI and she will hand you a complete Baja 1000 map download that you can program right into your GPS, fresh with hazards, mile markers, and speed zones.  At the Dakar the race organizers (ASO) hold a “Briefing” the day before the next stage of the rally and each driver is handed a map, yes a map (those things your parents used to use when you would take a family vacation).  A Dakar “GPS” is essentially a digital compass; just enough to help you get to your next check point. For safety reasons every vehicle has a “disabled” GPS, if you in an emergency unlock it you will get penalized.

In the Baja 1000 (or any other desert race for that matter) you allowed multiple pit areas where your crew can set up their chase trucks and prepare for a pit stop.  In Rally Raid type Dakar racing; there are no pit stops, your crew cannot pit your vehicle while racing.  Only the driver, co-rider or drivers of another vehicle are able to work on the vehicle once the stage starts. That is the reason big Teams get formed so a 2nd, 3rd or 4th vehicle can help out within the stage if needed.

After each stage your team and car will return to the Bivouac, usually located at an airfield located near the end of the sage.  A Bivouac is often referred to as “the traveling village”, because that’s exactly what it is.  There is a medial staff on hand, media personnel wondering collecting notes of intel, there is a full blown catering facility along with sleeping quarters and restroom facilities among others.  The closest thing to compare to what desert racing has is probably Coco’s corner or Rice and Beans, eh it’s something right?

Robby Gordon's team prepping the Hummer for the 2013 Dakar
Robby Gordon’s team prepping the Hummer for the 2013 Dakar

Unlike a desert race where they give you point A and B and you run it at a fast enough pace to finish the race (hopefully ahead of the competition), Rally Raid racing has a bunch of little races built into the big race itself.  There are 4 different types of races that take place:  Special Stage (aka Selective Sector), Liaison, Marathon Stage and a Loop Stage.

–       Special Stage (aka Selective Sector):  These stages of the race are run like a desert racing “time trial”; race results are based on the total time of the SS combined.  It’s a sprint, run as hard as you can without breaking and the person with the best time wins. Your time on the course counts and no outside help is permitted.

–       Liaison:  Liaison’s are transfer sections that take place mostly on the highway to get from the Bivouac to the starting line or from the finish line to the Bivouac.  Although this isn’t a “race” per say, it is a requirement for your race vehicle to compete this stage in the race in the allotted time in order to keep from getting penalized. The time limits to complete them are set where one can comfortably drive in regular street traffic without breaking any laws. Outside help is allowed.

–       Marathon Stage:  A Marathon Stage is a stage that lasts two or more consecutive days.  After each day of racing, awards are given for the winner of that stage.  In the instance of a Marathon Stage, an award will be given after the Marathon Stage is completed (no matter how many days are involved)

–       Loop Stage:  Loop Stages are exactly what they sound like; they are a stage in the rally in which the race finishes where it started that day.  Pretty straight forward much like our loop races here in the states.

Hopefully some of these general rules and terms will help you guys as you are watching the 2013 Dakar Rally.  Look for daily write-ups here on the Race-Dezert homepage as well as a new thread in the Rally Raid section of our forum started after each day of the rally.

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    Brian
  • January 6, 2013
Dakar: The real World Champonship of Desert Racing
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    Eric fandrichperformance
  • January 6, 2013
I think in the case if a navigator gets injured or sick in the middle of the rally the team should be allowed 1 backup navigator. I don't think it would be any advantage of a team to have use a backup navigator. As a matter of fact it would be a disadvantage. Maybe a small time penalty, if anything, for switching navigators. However it should stand that if a driver can't continue then the team should be out of the race. I don't think it's right that an entire team should be out because a navigator becomes ill or gets injured. However it should be up to the ASO to allow the second navigator under the correct circumstances, so that way they can't switch for no reason or because the original navigator doesn't feel like racing anymore.
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    TylerL
  • January 6, 2013
Never knew there was so much stuff going on in DAKAR. Really is the biggest race in the world.
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    Veronen
  • January 6, 2013
Sure Biggest and Hardest therefore Famous!
No pit stops, No support during race, 9000 km of total race, Navigations and strategy and not only desert there is Big Dunes, Muds, Rocky mountains, reaching 3000 m then 0 m .
AMAZING
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    Gabo Castro
  • November 20, 2013
respecfully disagree about it, I´m reading this and it seems you rooth for the Dakar, wich by the way I love it, BUT as an former Off Road Rider and current MTB profesional rider here´s my opinion about the subject:

1.- Baja1000 and the Dakar are 2 complete different races and formats, so there is no way you can come up with comparsons (please excuse my english I´m a no native american.
2.- I´ve been in B1000 7 times and all I can say is this: there was back in 2005 2 Dakar Elite Teams lead by 1 Baja "big mouth" driver who start to sing out this and that about they are the new F1 level off road race team in town, they prep., pre-run it and state they were ready to beat the Trophy Trucks by and hour at the Baja 500 2005, Team Touareg realized pre running the baja and race it were 2 different things, 1 of them actually made it to the finish line but sadly an hour+ later than the firts TT arrived, so my conclusion about that is simple, they try to compite with 300+HP turbo disel engines 4x4 state of the art cars with 8" front and 10" wheel travel on the back, on the other corner are the TT with average of 800HP, 28" front and 38" wheel travel on the back.

So an other words, Baja Racers proven the went and race at the Dakar for years and most of the times they are on the podium, the other way arround is not like that because Touareg race team NEVER wanted to comeback and try it again so I couldn´t say...

Baja race vehicules and drivers are made for everywhere and anything, Dakar racers can keep going on RALLY and have there fun every year, I pray the lord one day the Snob MFKER of Patronelli have a pair of rocks and come to Baja 1000 and compete against the Termecula or Honda Teams, that whould be a keeper!!

Saludos!
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    Gabo Castro
  • November 20, 2013
Sorry I forgot to mention: years after Mark "Big Mouth" Miller convinced Ryan Arciero to participate in a all new redesigned Touareg (wich by the way is just a smaller version a a TT with the Touareg fiber glass covers). but every time they rece the had never make it to the finish line...
http://bajasafari.blogspot.mx/2008/06/road-to-baja-racing-news-vw-motorsports.html

This is the video Mark Miller pissed off rest of the Baja drivers, the under word said there was a buch of calls from all TT guys saying "did you hear what Mark just said?".... consequently all called there sponsors, sponsors said: " we don´t care if you tear up the truck but what ever it takes, whatever you need, as long as you beat them"... urban story? maybe

I close this post with the video link from Mark´s "now I know to keep the pin hole close" Miller
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HhhBMEKxME
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