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December 20, 2017
The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally: what to expect

Santiago Bernal (Pilot), Nicolás Robledo (Pilot) y Cristian Cajicá (Pilot) (Photo: Nixon Carranza)
by Constanza Mora Pedraza, AIPS Member, Colombia

BOGOTÁ, December 20, 2017 - It is considered the most difficult competition in the motorsport world, to the extent that many do not participate with the goal of getting a place on the podium but of finishing the race. This is the Dakar, an endurance test created in 1977 with the slogan "A challenge for those who leave. A dream for those who stay" and that was consolidated in 1978, thanks to Frenchman Thierry Sabine who after getting lost in the desert of Teneré in Africa during the course of the Abidjan-Nice rally, was struck tby he wonderful and imposing landscape. He decided to create a tour leaving from Europe, going through Alger, Agadez and ending in Dakar. That's how in 1978 the dream came true and the Paris-Dakar Rally was born.

For many years, and until 1994 the Dakar was held in Europe, leaving from Paris mainly, but since 1995 the starting line has had different cities, such as Granada, Lisbon or Barcelona among others. Likewise, the finish line has not always been in Dakar, as in 1992 the competition ended in Cape Town in South Africa, in 2000 in Cairo, and in 2003 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

The 2008 edition was the only one not to be held, as a result of a possible terrorist attacks in Mauritania, so the French government decided to cancel the Dakar Rally this year. By 2009, the competition changed completely from Europe and Africa to South America, where it has crossed countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay.

For this 2018 edition and its 40th anniversary the Dakar will tour through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina between January 6 and 20, it will see competitions in five categories; cars, motorcycles, trucks, quads and UTVs or side by sides; will have 14 stages and the participation of 500 competitors from 60 countries who will cross sandy areas, mud, rocks and more than 10 thousand kilometers.

The Colombian team will once again be present in this world motorsport adventure, with a group of experienced racers and debutants. This year also comes with the goal set to try their luck and enter the legendary world of the race for the South American sands. Colombia will be represented by:

Nicolás Robledo: achieved podium in a preliminary rally and this time he will seek to confirm his aspirations in UTVs.

Santiago Bernal: will take part for the first time in the event and will do so in motorcycles, being the only Colombian in this category. "My expectations are focused on learning a lot, on understanding the path and learning to manage it. I have humble aspirations, to compete in the best possible way and to represent the country very well, for that I have prepared my whole life".

Cristian Cajicá: first Colombian to participate in quads category and who will be for the fourth time in the most difficult race of the motorsport world.

A new challenge is coming, this is already the fourth time that you will be in the Dakar, what is expected for this 2018?

For now, without pretensions …. What the pilots always want is to finish. We must be willing that the mere fact of finishing is a great achievement, that looking at the position is not so relevant; clearly we want to finish in a better position, but that is very complicated; first we have to beat the Dakar and then the others, because the Dakar can beat you faster than any other driver can beat you, so the expectations is to finish.

From the experiences that you have had in the previous three years, what have you taken for what is coming this year?

You know, I have not been asked that question and I got a flashback ... From the first one, we came for glory, and that first was an impressive glory because we finished, we were 5th and 17th in the general classification; then we came with a few difficult years; first the breakage of the quad, then I had an accident this year, so now I come with everything, it brings all the experience of the world and I hope that things go well.

You and your team, what features do you have?

It fills me with pride to say that we have a 100% Colombian quad and that our team is 100% Colombian, so this makes us work with more love.

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