January 18th, 2011

Drawing a line in the sand

Here at Motormorph we salute Thierry Sabine. This French man is responsible for one of the most arduous endurance races on the planet, and it’s all down to him getting lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert in 1977. While getting lost Thierry thought up the idea of what we now know as the Paris-Dakar rally. This year’s race has once again taken a slight geographical change as it thousands of miles away from both Paris and Dakar. The 2011 rally was for the third time held in South America and saw a 9,500 km dash across rocks, canyons and dunes spread over Argentina and Chile.

This year 407 Teams started the race with 200 motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, 140 cars, and 67 trucks but after two weeks of battling against the planet only 203 of the crews finished the race.

Volkswagen stole the show by recording a historic one-two-three finish. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk won this years rally in their awesomely unstoppable Race Touareg 3. The win was the third consecutive Dakar victory for Volkswagen.

The overall winning time was 45 hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds, almost 50 minutes clear of second place and more than one hour and 40 minutes ahead of the first non-Volkswagen finisher – a BMW X3 CC in fourth position.

The 230kW 2.5-litre five-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engines covered 9600km in the four Race Touareg 3 vehicles and endured temperatures of close to 60 degrees Celsius. Whilst having to make their way through desert sand, washed-out riverbeds, canyons, river crossings and what else planet earth could throw at it.

Thierry Sabine coined a motto for the Paris-Dakar, “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.” And from these pictures you can see what a delightful dream a painful and bumpy Rally Raid across the desert can be.

Words: Rowan Horncastle