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DAKAR RALLY, THE ADVENTURE NEVER ENDS

The 2018 race will also mark the 40th edition of the Dakar Rally.
Arguably the "toughest race" in the world, the Dakar dramatically evolved from the romantic adventure conceived by the mind of Thierry Sabine: a "tout-terrain" race starting in Paris and ending on the shores of Lac Rose, just outside Dakar, Senegal.
The first edition took place in 1978: those were the glory days of the rally (then called Paris-Dakar), when riders from all over the place would show up on any kind of machine and shoot wide open through the Sahara desert: many made their dream come true, others never did. Some became legends, but "what the Dakar gives, the Dakar takes", and a few of the most iconic racers lost their lives in the pursuit of their African Dream. The most notable ones being the French Gilles Lalay and the Italian Fabrizio Meoni, but they are part of a disturbingly long list of victims claimed by the race, and even Sabine himself died in an helicopter crash in Mali, caught off-guard by a sand storm while directing the rally in 1986.
 
At some point Africa became too dangerous and too politically unstable to keep racing in that continent: in 2008 the race was cancelled due to concerns for terrorist attacks in Mauritania and, starting from the following year, the Dakar moved to South America, invited by the governments of Chile and Argentina.
It still is the "toughest race" on the planet, and the organizers decided to keep part of the original name even if the race has been away from Senegal for a decade now.
 
Also gone are the days where most manufacturers would line-up with their factory Teams and prototypes: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW and Cagiva built some exotic race bikes along the years, and the new models were always highly anticipated by the fans.
Now the race is literally owned by KTM, winner of the last 16 straight editions: a streak started by the Italian Meoni in 2001. Other notable Factory efforts come from Husqvarna (also owned by KTM) and the HRC Honda Rally Team (supported by GIVI).
In 2018 (Jan. 6th - 20th) the race will start in Lima, Peru (for the first time in 5 years) and will pass through Bolivia before reaching Cordoba, Argentina, for a total of 12 stages and more than 9000 km (60% of which will be off-road special tests).
 
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