The World’s most grueling racing event without an iota of doubt, the Dakar Rally 2019 is about to be flagged off on the 6th of January. From that day until the 17th of January, men, women and their machines will test themselves beyond their own limits for 5,000 kilometres, spread across 10 stages. What’s the big change for this year? Unlike the 2018 Dakar Rally, this year’s race will be run within Peru, South America on a new loop rally-route, with the start and finish line drawn in Lima. Along the way, the rally will cut through the cities of Pisco, San Juan de Marcona, Arequipa and Moquegua.
This year’s event will feature two mass starts – for stage 5 before the Ilo dunes, then for stage 9 in a loop around Pisco. A mass start is a jaw dropping spectacle, as participants run riot through the desert, ‘Mad Max’ style, after being flagged off as a bunch. Preparing all year and then having to give up within a few kilometres after a mis-happening is utterly disappointing, and it happens to many. For this year then, cars, Side-by-Sides (SxS) and trucks which break down or simply break during a stage, will be able to join the race again after the rest day, in a parallel competition. Competing in another class, these vehicles will have an orange plate and will never be allowed to start in the top 25 of a special stage.
On both the days preceding the rest day, a marathon stage will be organised. At the end of the 4th special stage leaving Arequipa, the vehicles will be directed towards two different bivouac camps – in Moquegua for motorbikes and quads and Tacna for cars, SxS vehicles and trucks. The longest stage this year will be Stage 6, which will cover 838 kms, 317 of which will be a special stage between Arequipa and San Juan De Marcona. In an interesting twist, for stage 8, the orders of departure will combine the 10 fastest motorbikes, cars and 5 fastest trucks from the previous stage’s classification.
Flying the Indian tricolour high this time too, will be the Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team with their Dakar-spec RTR 450 Rally motorcycle. In his third Dakar outing, Aravind KP will be more determined than ever before, after having recovered from his injuries completely post the Pan Africa Rally. The Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team will be fielding four riders, where Aravind KP will be joined by the experienced Metge brothers – Michael and Adrien from France and Enduro Champion Lorenzo Santolino from Spain. Backed by a strong show at the Baja Aragon, PanAfrica Rally & Rally of Morocco, the Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team is confident of a top-10 finish at the Dakar 2019.
Joining Sherco TVS will be another Indian team – Hero MotoSports Team Rally. The Team will feature all three Hero MotoSports’ riders – CS Santosh, Joaquim Rodrigues, and the ‘Best Rookie of the Dakar 2018’, Oriol Mena, astride the Hero 450RR rally bike. We will be covering the event and bring you all the updates and stage-wise results at the end of every day. So stay tuned and cheer for your favourite hero and team. Because everyone who is a part of an event like the Dakar Rally, has earned that title.