Find out how far and how high the world’s toughest rally-raid is prepared to go in 2014.
The latest edition of the Dakar Rally has five special stages marked out as separate routes. This sees motorcycles and quads on one path with cars and trucks sharing another. The forks in the road account for 2,000km of timed sections and will see traffic on these stages vastly diminished. Cars and trucks will need to pay special attention to navigation while bikes and quads can expect to find narrower and more technical tracks during the separation.
Bikes & Quads – Special Stage Total: 5228km/Liaison Total: 3505km
There will be two marathon stages during the bike and quad races between Rosario and Valparaiso. While camping overnight in an offsite bivouac the riders will have no contact with their mechanics and will instead have to rely on themselves and their fellow competitors to make any necessary adjustments to their vehicles. The two marathon stages will represent 2702km (1228km between San Rafael and Chilecito plus 1474km between Salta and Calama), including a special stage total of 1590km (726 km and 864 km).
While searching out the toughest terrain possible the liaison route of each stage becomes a necessary evil of the Dakar Rally. The longest stretch of liaison at the 2014 Dakar comes on the first day as all competitors must travel 629km between Rosario and San Luis in addition to the 180km timed special stage. Three-time Dakar winner Marc Coma has developed a technique of making the most of each liaison, “I try to use the liaison as a time to focus on the stage ahead. I run through the difficult points of the navigation in my head and memorise what to remember – kind of like an exam situation.”
Cars – Special Stage Total: 5522km/ Liaison Total: 3852km
While the bikes and quads have a pair of marathon stages to contest it will be the cars and trucks that suffer the longest day of timed racing at the upcoming Dakar. On Stage Four between San Juan and Chilecito the field of cars and trucks will be racing a distance of 657km – the longest timed stage at the Dakar for nearly a decade. The longest stretch of racing for the bikes and quads comes on Stage Ten when they must dash 631km through the Atacama Desert between Iquique and Antofagasta.
Racing at extreme altitudes has been a common feature of the Dakar since its relocation to South America. In 2014 the rally will once again cross over the Andes, home to 6,960 metre tall Aconcagua mountain – the tallest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. Altitude is also on the menu for the bikes and quads when they travel to Bolivia for the first time and race under the gaze of the Tunupa Volcano, standing at 5,300 metres above sea-level.
Trucks – Special Stage Total: 5513km/ Liaison Total: 3976km
Once the 2014 Dakar Rally settles into its second week the stages will almost exclusively be staged in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Sections of the 1000km stretch of desert are proven to be the driest places on earth with an annual rainfall of just 0.004 inches (about an inch every one thousand years). As the Dakar passes through cities such as Calama in the heart of the Atacama it’s imperative that competitors take the time to regularly rehydrate themselves in this inhospitable landscape.