In just a month’s time, 12 cities in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia will play host to the 13 stages of the extremely grueling 14-day Dakar 2015.
Some 450 vehicles in four classes of competition are expected join the 9,000 kilometer race that will through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. However, the only way to complete the Dakar is through a combination of endurance and determination.
The competitors will have an additional problem to resolve on the 9,000 kilometers to be covered in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia: adopting and maintaining the right momentum, while the route continuously strives to break it.
Depending on the day, both the setting and the pace will change, moving from rocky routes to desert dunes and from endurance stages to extreme sprints. Given the competitors’ inability to recognize clearly identified sections, in particular they must capitalize upon their ability to adapt, and to control their stamina. The marathon stages will definitely remind them of this basic rule of off-road races.
The Dakar tests competitors and their vehicles in extreme endurance. The marathon stages, where drivers cannot use their assistance teams, are a particular test of their ability to independently manage their mechanics. This year, cars and trucks, which have not taken part in a marathon stage since 2005, will have to tackle this additional difficulty.
Split over two days, a marathon stage involves some of the competitors spending the night in an isolated bivouac. The vehicles are taken into a closed area, where only help between competitors is authorized. Despite the technical challenges which this constraint represents, the drivers also enjoy a different, highly convivial atmosphere.
In Uyuni, it will be the car teams which will spend a night apart, followed by the motorcyclists and quad bikers the next day. The truck category will have its own dedicated bivouac in the middle of the Atacama Desert.
To make organization of the marathon stages possible, a new system has been set up at the heart of the extended stay in Iquique. So, on January 11, three races will take place on three different routes and in two countries. This mean there is also a need to incorporate staggered rest days for the motorcyclists and quad bikers.
Different routes and rest days also gives the car teams the opportunity to fully demonstrate their potential, both in terms of driving and navigation. With 1,382km of open space (a third of the special stages) the cars will be able to compete without being slowed down by overtaking… and will also enjoy routes on virgin terrain. The truck drivers will find themselves in this situation for more than 600 kilometers.
The 2015 Dakar Rally will be the 35th running of the event and the seventh successive year that the event is held in South America.