Behind the scenes with the Dakar organisers
The Dakar is organised by A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation). Preparing for the world’s biggest cross-country rally is a year-long job that monopolises a team of some 500 staff. The Dakar’s Sporting Director Marc Coma, a former five-time winner of the event on two wheels, talked us through the mission…
“With the Dakar, you’re talking about moving 3,000 people every day and serving 80,000 meals during the rally. To coordinate all this, A.S.O. calls on almost 500 people (logistics, medical and safety teams, officials, etc.), plus 210 vehicles and 11 helicopters.
“General information about the route is revealed at the end of April. After that, our recce team spends around two months in South America to prepare the roadbook. At the same time, they send back photos of the scenery visited by the stages to whet participants’ appetites!
“For competitors who want to take part, entries open in May and close in November for cars. You can also earn your entry on the different rounds of the Dakar Challenge which runs during the year. For novices, A.S.O. organises training courses in Europe, South America and China (Dakar Academy).
“The definitive route and entry list will be released at a presentation in Paris, France, on November 23. Two days after that, more than 600 vehicles, including those used by BFGoodrich®, will set sail for South America from the French port of Le Havre. In a way, that will mark the start of the 2017 Dakar, but it will also see us start to turn our attention to the 2018 event. The Dakar may only last two weeks, but planning takes a whole year!”