Dakar Rally kicks off in Argentina

Peter Hardy

Canada may not be represented this year on the moto side of the Dakar Rally but the USA is offering up two contenders.

First time participant, No. 167, Peter Hardy of California, a firefighter riding a 450 Rally Replica KTM, hopes he has what it takes just to finish his first effort at this grueling competition.

“I’ve been watching the Dakar for a decade now and I’ve been racing Baja type events for years. The Dakar was therefore the next step up. It’s a real challenge and I want to see if I’m up for it. I came to see what the event was like in 2012 to have a better understanding. For me the major issue is being able to get to the finish of each stage mechanically and physically sound. My goal is just to finish. I hope to compete in the malle-moto class in two years.”


The only other USA contender is Kevin Muggleton who has a score to settle after breaking his back in a previous Dakar. Muggleton, No.186 will tackle the terrain on a CRF450X Honda. His bio reads like he will kick your ass (a black belt in Taekwondo), yet his first attempt at the Dakar kicked his ass to a stretcher.

Ever since I was eleven, I wanted to be a Dakar biker. I’ve ridden bikes all over the world. I left school to enter the army. I travelled around the world on foot, hitchhiking and in all kind of vehicles. On day two of the Dakar I was caught by a dune. I got my road book wrong. A typical unexpected error. My body folded in two. I broke my back in three places and broke ribs. Lying on my hospital bed, in pain, all I thought about was coming back. It made me want to come back even more. Finishing the Dakar is just everything to me. I still have that dream I had when I was 11. For this second attempt, my head is in a better position. I’m not going to race. I need to be in my own bubble. I spent the year overcoming my injuries. I’m almost back at 100% and physically I had to work twice as hard.”

His injury has a familiar ring to it as Canadian Don Hatton also mis-navigating a dune and sent him to hospital during one of his many attempts at the Dakar – he has not finished and for the first time in several years, his name does not appear on the list of competitors.

Dakar Rally 2014 runs January 5 to January 18, 2014

The Dakar in figures

2: marathon stages (bikes and quads) without assistance and totally independent (2,702 km including 1,590 km of special stages).
4: the number of titles to be won on the Dakar, in the bike, quad, car and truck categories.
9: the number of women registered on the Dakar in the car, bike and quad categories.
11: the record for rally victories, held by Stéphane Peterhansel, with 6 titles on a bike and 5 in a car. Vladimir Chagin boasts the record number of victories in a single category, with 7 triumphs in a truck.
18, 23: in years and days, the age of the youngest rider at the start in Rosario, Argentinean Jeremías González Ferioli, participating in the quad category.
28: the number of countries visited by the Dakar since its creation. Bolivia will be welcoming the rally for the first time, hosting two stages.
30: the number of doctors present at the field hospital, for the riders, drivers and organisation teams.
41: the number of quad riders registered for the rally in 2014, a record.
50: the number of nationalities represented on the rally.
60: the number of secure zones for spectators.
71: the number of trucks participating in the rally.
72: in years, the age of the rally’s oldest competitor, Japan’s Yoshimasa Sugawara, in a truck.
89: the number of competitors taking part in the Dakar for the first time, i.e. 20.27% of the total.
124: the number of French competitors involved in the race, the leading nationality, with 17.29% of the total.
152: the number of cars taking part in the rally.
190: the number of countries in which the images of the Dakar will be broadcast, by 70 TV broadcasters.
210: the number of organisation vehicles used daily on the rally (40 cars, 11 helicopters, 55 trucks, 5 buses, etc.).
280: the number of journalists who will follow the entire rally, out of 1,800 granted media passes in total in the media family (technicians, consultants, day pass holders, etc.).
450: in CC, the maximum power authorised for the engines on the motorbikes enrolled on the rally.
720: the number of competitors involved as riders, drivers, co-pilots and mechanics.
1,200: in total, the estimated number of hours broadcast of images of the Dakar on the world’s TV channels (based on figures from 2013).
1978: on 26th December of that year, the start of the 1st edition took place, for the 1979 vintage
2,300: the number of safety messages broadcast on 40 radio stations in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
3,000:the number of people welcomed each day to the bivouac: competitors, organisers, sponsors and media personnel.
8,739: the number of kilometres to be covered between Rosario and Santiago, with 5,220 kilometres of special stages for the cars.
9,209: the number of kilometres to be covered between Rosario and Santiago, with 5,212 kilometres of special stages for the trucks.
9395: the number of kilometres to be covered between Rosario and Santiago, with 5,222 kilometres of special stages for the bikes.
22,000: the number of people mobilised for the safety of the spectators and competitors.
80,000: the number of meals served at the bivouac during the duration of the rally.
100,000: the number of followers on the Dakar’s official Twitter feed.
820,000: the number of fans on the Dakar’s official Facebook page, several days before the start of the race.
7.8 million: the number of unique visitors to the www.dakar.com web site.
4.6 million: the number of spectators counted for the start, finish and passage of the Dakar in 2013, in Argentina, Chile and Peru.
1 billion: the number of TV viewers that watched images of the Dakar in 2013


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