Why the Dakar Rally is in Latin America?

The Dakar Rally, the most famous rally raid in the world, celebrates its 40th edition. Each year it attracts more viewers and participants from all around the world. Although in its first edition it was run from the France to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, its format has changed throughout its history, to the point that it stopped being celebrated in African territory. Why?

The Rally has its origins with the French pilot Thierry Sabine, who was lost in the desert of Teneré, located in Niger. Once he was found, he conceived the idea of ​​recreating his experience in an international automotive competition.

From 1978 to 1994, the original layout of the race was preserved, from Paris to Dakar. Due to sponsorship reasons, locations and routes were changed. Thus, some editions started in Lisbon or the Spanish city of Granada.

In 2008, the competition was suspended due to terrorist threats by Al Qaeda because of its passage through Mauritania. The organizers and the French company Amaury Sport Organization also faced problems with the layout of the route in Africa due to the political instability of the area.

Then, in 2009, the venue of the event was changed from Africa to South America. Argentina and Chile sheltered the race with great success. The route has varied at times, as in 2012 Peru was included as part of the route, in 2014 it was run for the first time in Bolivia and in 2017, Paraguay was part of the route. The organizers do not rule out that in the future they will include other countries in the event.

For the 2018 edition, which will take place from January 6 to January 20, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina are the scenarios for the 340 participants in four different categories: automobiles, motorcycles, trucks and quads.

What controversies raises the Dakar Rally?

While hosting this race, countries can bring economic and tourist benefits; however, the realization of the event has arised debates. For instance, the difficulty of the race is such, that to date 25 participants have died, including the founder of the rally Thierry Sabine. Throughout its history, more than 50 people who did not participate in the Dakar have died either from being hit or collisions.

When it was made in Africa, there were many protests against the Dakar because of the wide advertising coverage of the event that ignored all the problems that afflict the continent such as poverty, hunger and disease.

Already when the race went to South America, some non-governmental organizations complained about the rally's passage through the Atacama desert in Chile. It is in this place where the phenomenon of the flowered desert occurs, when it covers the surface of the driest deserts on the planet with flowers.

LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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