Aspiring Dakar competitors rubbed shoulders with race veterans and event organisers at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire on Friday at the UK tour of 2014 Dakar. ASO, the organisation that runs the Dakar have been working their way around Europe in an effort to promote the 2014 race, give details to confirmed competitors and allay concerns for riders looking to enter the world biggest off-road event.
On hand to answer questions and speak with future competitors were two of the UK’s most highly regarded rally riders. Irishman Stan Watt finished 25th overall in the 2013 race riding a KTM450RR in the two man FrontrowGB team. Addressing the packed conference, Watt said:
“I think it’s the fear of the unknown that puts people off. The Rally scene in the UK is a bit of a black art which is why it’s good to get people in one place to talk about it. Budget is another factor but there will be a lot of people short circuit racing in the UK that will be spending more money on their season than it costs to do the Dakar.”
Seven time Dakar finisher Simon Pavey has been racing in the event for well over a decade and believes the hardest part of doing it is making the decision to commit. He said:
“You’ve just got to commit, because from that moment on you’ll find a way to get to the start line. You need to make the decision and then tell everyone you know that you’re doing it – that way you can’t back out! It’s the toughest race in the world and you really have to want to do it though. The preparation is one thing and getting to the start line is a big challenge. You have to really want to get to the finish, because if you go there thinking that if it all goes well you might make it, I can tell you now that you won’t. Things will go wrong which is why you have to be 100% determined to get to the end.”
ASO’s Head of the Competitors' Department, Xavier Gavory and the UK’s liaison officer Chris Evans gave details of the revised 2014 route. Gavory said:
“The race will start in Argentina on 4th January and finish in Chile on 18th January. For 2014 we will go to Bolivia for the first time which will be the 28th country the Dakar has visited since it began. This will be hard for the competitors because of the extreme altitude with most stages running in excess of 2800m. We will also see two Marathon stages for the bikes (stages where the riders go to a separate bivouac where there is no outside assistance) and there will also be a move to longer timed special stages and shorter liaison stages.”
For additional information on the 2014 Dakar contact Chris Evans - firstname.lastname@example.org