Rally Tours NZ is one of the only tour companies to tackle the worlds most arduous motor sport event.
The venue is South America’s playground of Argentina, chile and Bolivia. The 15 day marathon covers 9,000km, three countries and a wide variety of landscape and hosts 150 motorcycles, 60 quads, 100 cars and buggies and 50 heavy trucks. Even the competitors do comprehend what they have let themselves in for. When assisting a tired and cold Dutch motorcyclist get off his bike to warm his hands at 4500 metres on the Andes crossing the question was asked. “Is this your first Dakar” the prompt reply was, “Yes and the last !!”
Rally Tours first visited the “Dakar” in 2013 and without too much event information successfully followed the event from Lima, Peru to Cordoba, Argentina finishing in Santiago, Chile. The lure of this amazing and arduous motor sport event is addictive hence we returned for the 2015 edition as the French organisers call it.
Starting in Buenos Aires, outside the parliment buildings attracted no less than 800,000 on-lookers and supporters of the event. In South America the “Dakar” is a household name the following is huge no matter how small the towns that you pass through. It was soon evident that our clients Susann and Peter had not even imagined the size of the Dakar following nor the number of people involved in this travelling circus which number 450 competitors and 4000 team and administration personal, all travelling in the same direction.
We made lots of friends along the way including said motorcyclist, the cold, tired and disillusioned Erik the Dutchman, our Australian friend Geoff Ohlens in the Hi-Lux (who unfortunately crashed out) and our Italian friends driving a Mercedes Unimog in the truck class who finished with a big smile on their face.
We traveled with the Dakar Circus across the Andes, twice and endured the altitude, the heat and the dust. The days were long but the atmosphere was electric. The battles amongst the motorcycle,car and truck classes were intense and changed from day to day with an attrition rate of almost 50% recorded at the finish in Buenos Aires.
Being at the finish podium was a fitting conclusion to our marathon tour. Watching and feeling the self satisfaction of the competitors was worth waiting for. Even the weather played its trump card on the last day with an isolated down-pour that necessitated the cancellation of part of the final stage. Anything can happen on the Dakar.