A closer look at the numbers and facts to the legendary Dakar...

A closer look at the numbers and facts to the legendary Dakar Rally


The Dakar Rally is legendary but there still are many fascinating facts in its history. The Red Bulletin collected some of the most interesting ones.

How the Dakar Rally began?

Frenchman Thierry Sabine first beckoned people to the starting line on December 26, 1978 and 170 competitors heeded his call. Right from the outset, the rally, which originally went from Paris to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, was intended as the toughest test possible for man and machine. Sabine’s motto was: “If life gets boring, risk it!” Sabine died in a helicopter crash in 1986… during the rally, of course.

Why is a rally named after an African city held in South Africa?

The 2008 rally was called off because of terror threats in Africa and in 2009 it moved to South America, which was both safer and had greater public appeal. But as the Dakar name was synonymous with cross-country rallies, the organisers kept it. There’s not much chance of it moving back to Africa either. Interest in South America is phenomenal. Every participant is a star. Plus, the added value to the local economy is about $300 million a year.

Who has made the most starts?

Japan’s Yoshimasa Sugawara has taken part in the race 33 times consecutively: first on a bike at the age of 41 in 1983; then seven times in a car; and he’s been racing in the truck category since 1992. His mechanics always know to observe etiquette. Whenever Sugawara San, now 75, rolls into the bivouac, they bow, as tradition demands.

How much money a competitor needs?

How much have you got? The poorest competitors go it alone in the motorbike category. But then you have to do everything yourself. So you’re looking at:

  • €24,000: A KTM Adventure bike with a ‘ready-to-race’ Dakar package
  • €14,800: Starter’s fee
  • €10,000: Spare parts
  • €3,000: Rider’s equipment
  • €2,000: Flights
  • €1,000: Licence and attestation
  • €1,000: Visa, small gifts, internet access, etc.

Alternatively, sign up with a KTM satellite team for €90,000. That gets you your own mechanic, too. Accompanying staff generally cost extra. The fees are staggered according to when you register, starting at €9,000 per assistant. And as they’re coming along for the ride, you have to register every support car, too. A car will set you back €2,500, and a motorhome costs €6,000.

What does the winner get?

Honour and glory, and a nice trophy, because with just €58,000 prize money on offer for top spot, you’re not likely to be in this for the cash. If you win in your category, you get €5,000. But if you exploit your victory well, you’ll never go hungry.