Dakar Rally 2016 blog - part 4 - Dakar 2016 - day 1

Daily updates from the incredible 9596km race

Saturday, 2nd Jan 2016 - ceremonial start

The 2016 Dakar Rally has begun! It’s Saturday evening as I type and I’m waiting to board a flight from Buenos Aires, where I watched the ceremonial start, to the in-land city of Cordoba. The competitors drove on from the start ramp earlier this afternoon to an 11km prologue stage – which determined the running order for the first leg – before continuing on towards Cordoba themselves. 

The real action gets underway tomorrow morning and I’m going to be spectating for the first two days of the rally. Lucky sod. I’ll update this blog each evening and I’ll try to give you a flavour of the event from the ground.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

As a World Rally Championship fan I’m excited to see how Dakar newbies Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen fare over the next two weeks. Loeb in particular is a personal hero so I’m hoping he can mix it with the established big names of long distance, cross-country rallying like Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah in his Peugeot 2008 DKR.

Let me give you some of the more staggering numbers. Over 15 days the competitors will cover 9596km. Almost half of that – 4775km – is timed special stage. The route runs north from Buenos Aeries and into Bolivia before returning to Argentina. The longest single special stage runs for 542km. How the drivers maintain concentration over that distance while battling dunes, rocky tracks, mud and heat, I don’t know. I’ll try to ask some of them.

The lead British entrant is Harry Hunt. He’s driving a Mini All4 Racing under the X-Raid Team banner. He’s an experienced rally driver but he’s relatively new to rally raid and this is his first Dakar. You’ll find an interview with Harry in the latest issue of the magazine.  

Right, my flight is boarding. It’s just occurred to me that when I arrive back in the UK on Wednesday morning, probably short on sleep and a little worse for wear, the drivers will still have another nine days of flat-out competition ahead of them. There’s nothing quite like the Dakar Rally.

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m3-saloon/20529/all-new-bmw-m3-competition-revealed-an-icon-reborn
BMW M3 saloon

All-new BMW M3 Competition revealed – an icon reborn

This is the all-new BMW M3 Competition saloon which will join the M4 Competition coupe in BMW M’s new M3/4 family
23 Sep 2020
Visit/hyundai/202950/updated-hyundai-i30-n-revealed-with-optional-dual-clutch-box
Hyundai i30 N

Updated Hyundai i30 N revealed with optional dual-clutch ‘box

It was the hot hatch that upset the status quo, and now the i30 N is back with more power and tech
24 Sep 2020
Visit/ferrari/203127/ferrari-omologata-revealed-latest-bespoke-commission-a-v12-super-coupe
Ferrari

Ferrari Omologata revealed – latest bespoke commission a V12 super coupe

One-off Ferrari Omologata revealed with bespoke body 789bhp V12 engine
25 Sep 2020
Visit/peugeot/508/22305/2020-peugeot-508-sport-engineered-unveiled-bmw-3-series-rival-turned-to-355bhp
Peugeot 508

2020 Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered unveiled – BMW 3-series rival turned to 355bhp

Peugeot’s first Sport Engineering model has finally been uncovered, the hot 508 featuring a range-topping hybrid powertrain
24 Sep 2020