Despite organizers claiming all through 2018 that this year’s Dakar Rally would start in January 6, the racing will really start tomorrow, on January 8.
This year’s race takes place entirely in the country of Peru; it ends on January 17, and will cover 5,000 km. About 3,000 km of the race will be in sand, which should bring back memories of the rally’s halcyon days in the dunes of the Sahara.
However, the realities of running the race in a single country mean this year’s race is going to look different, starting with a race that’s much shorter than the usual 12-14 days. While the race “officially” started Saturday, the first real riding happens today (Monday), and all that today’s action determines is tomorrow’s starting order.
Another factor that nobody’s talking about much is the fact that Marc Coma has left the ASO (Dakar’s organizing body). There was much hope in recent years that Coma would revitalize the race, using his years as a champion motorcycle racer to build a better route. Without his guidance this year, it will be interesting to see what we end up with.
There are no Canadian riders in the motorcycle segment this year (Patrick Beaule, who previously ran in the motorcycle class, is co-piloting a car again for 2019).