Desert Storms

Updated: 2011-01-16 08:57

(China Daily)

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 Desert Storms

Clockwise: Richard Gonzales of France and his co-drivers camp by their Man truck after it crashed during the night of an early stage of the rally from Iquique to Arica Jan 7. Trucks are the big muscle of the rally. Motorcyclists create some of the most excitement - and may have the most fun - in the cross-continent event. Marc Coma of Spain seems alone in the word as he rides his KTM Iquique to Arica on the Chilean part of the race. China's biker Han Baohua drinks after he fell last Sunday. Competitors use the mobile sanitary arrangements during the rest day on Jan 8. Kamaz team masseur Bolat tends to driver Artur Ardavichus, both of Russia, at the camp in Copiapo, Chile on Tuesday. Photos by Reuters and Associated Press

The Dakar is a desert adventure that has kept adrenalin high for the last 30 years.

The Dakar Rally, which concludes today after a grueling 16-day competition, is an annual rally raid type of off-road automobile race.

Formerly known as "Paris to Dakar Rally", most races since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal. But due to security threats in Mauritania in 2008, the Amaury Sport Organization moved the 2009 Dakar Rally to South America (Argentina and Chile), the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa. It has stayed in South America for what is now the third year.

The race is open to amateur and professional entries. Amateurs typically make up about 80 percent of the participants. The adventure began back in 1977, when Frenchman Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice Rally. Saved from the sands in extremis, he returned to France still in thrall to this landscape and promised himself he would share his fascination with as many people as possible.

He proceeded to come up with a route starting in Europe, continuing to Algiers and crossing Agadez before eventually finishing at Dakar. The founder coined a motto for his inspiration: "A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind."


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