Dakar 101



This year is the 41st running of the Dakar rally. Dakar started in 1977 and used to run from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal. The inaugural event had 182 vehicles taking the green flag with only 74 completing the 10,000 km race. The most competitors seen in the rally was 688 in 2004 with the longest rally was 15,000km. To put that in perspective you could travel from Los Angeles to New York three times and not cover that distance, 13,431 km.  Along with more competitors the venue has changed as well. Usually being hosted in Africa the rally moved continents to South America in 2009 over safety concerns. 


In 2019 the event will have 334 vehicles competing across 5 vehicle groups: bike, quad, car, SxS and truck, 135 of the competitors are rookies of Dakar like Casey. The race will take place 100% in Peru and span a distance of 5600 km which will be the shortest Dakar rally to date. Short being a huge understatement as thats the equivalence of racing 7 Baja 500’s back to back. 

141 Bikes

141 Bikes

26 Quads

26 Quads

41 Trucks

41 Trucks

96 Cars

96 Cars

30 SxS

30 SxS


Most stage wins per class:

Bike: Stéphane Peterhansel - 33

Quad: Marcos Patronelli - 19

UTV: Tie Patrice Garrouste & Reinaldo Varela - 5

Car: Ari Vatanen - 50

Truck: Vladimir Chagin - 57

Most Vehicles to Start: 688 in 2004

Longest Rally: 15,000 km 1986

Shortest Rally: 5600 km 2019

Most wins per class 

Bike: Stéphane Peterhansel - 6

Quad: Marcos Patronelli: 3

UTV: Tie Leandro Torres & Reinaldo Varela - 1

Car: Stéphane Peterhansel - 7

Truck: Vladimir Chagin - 7


Bivouac - A bivouac is basically base camp for the teams. This is where all of the teams park their rigs and work on the race vehicles, along with that at each bivouac there are amenities for the workers and racers from catered food to bathrooms and showers. 

Overhead look at the first Bivouac in Lima, Peru.

Overhead look at the first Bivouac in Lima, Peru.

Stage - A stage, also known as an etape, is the route for a single day of the rally, a stage consists of liaison sections and special sections.

Liaison - A liaison is an untimed section used to get to and from the bivouac to the special. They are normally on a highway with a controlled speed. You have a set time limit of when the liaison must be completed by or else penalty can occur.

Special - A special is the timed section of the stage. This time accumulates towards your overall time.

Loop Stage - A loop stage is a stage that starts and finishes at the same bivouac.

Marathon Stage - The marathon stage is a stage that lasts for two consecutive days during which they are not allowed to receive outside assistance. If they have any issues they must fix the problems themselves or rely on other competitors to assist them.

Checkpoints (CP) - A checkpoint is used to ensure the competitors are on the designated route. There are normally 3 to 4 checkpoints on each special, and sometimes on liaisons as well. Competitors must hand over a card that they receive at the beginning of the stage to be stamped and verified. Missing a checkpoint results in heavy penalties.

Waypoints - Waypoints are points that competitors have to pass through in addition to checkpoints. When a race vehicle nears a waypoint, their GPS monitor starts up and displays the direction and distance to the point. There are two kinds of waypoints, a hidden waypoint (WPM) and a waypoint safety (WPS).  A hidden waypoint will activate the GPS when the vehicle comes within 800m of the point and once the vehicle comes within 200m of the radius of the point the waypoint will have been confirmed as reached. A waypoint safety on the other hand is used to keep competitors out of harms way, the GPS starts up at 3km radius of the point and will be considered reached when you come within 90m of the point. Competitors must pass all waypoints or will be faced with penalties. There can be up to 40 to 50 waypoints per day.

All of the race vehicles in Parc-Fermes before day 1 of the Dakar Rally.

All of the race vehicles in Parc-Fermes before day 1 of the Dakar Rally.

Prologue - Prologue is a stage held before the rally for competitors to qualify for the rally. 

Parc-Fermes - Parc-Fermes is the place where vehicles are held by the organization. Neither drivers or mechanics are allowed to access the vehicles while in Parc-Fermes. The organization can perform random checks as well to make sure the cars aren’t violating any regulations.


Rally Stage Breakdown

Stage 6 Total 789 km Special 289 km

Stage 7 Total 386 km Special 323 km

Stage 8 Total 572 km Special 359 km

Stage 9 Total 410 km Special 313 km

Stage 10 Total 356 km Special 246 km

Stage 1 Total 331km Special 84 km

Stage 2 Total 552 km Special 342 km

Stage 3 Total 799 km Special 331 km

Stage 4 Total 608 km Special 351 km (Marathon Stage)

Stage 5 Total 645 km Special 450 km (Marathon Stage)

Kyle Chandler