No not Christmas or New Years Eve, it's time for the Dakar Rally!
The quote in the title is from the event's founder, the late Thierry Sabine and sums it up nicely, A challenge indeed, 13 days of racing, 9000 kilometres and six days at over 3000 metres altitude. This year it visits Argentina, Bolivia and for the first time, Paraguay starting in the city of Asuncion on January 2nd 2017.
This year racing in the event are three guys I know, so these are the people to look out for:
Dave Watson is racing the Dakar for the first time, he is a contemporary from the All Terrain Rally Championship although we have never raced in the same class. I'm thankful for that as he is extremely quick, racing in (and in 2015, winning) the twins class on a BMW 1200 HP2 Enduro. After the 175 kg and 105 bhp of the Beemer riding his KTM 450 RR must seem quite easy! His effort is under the banner of "Dave Watson's Race to Dakar"
Kurt Burroughs is also racing the Dakar for the first time under the K66 Racing banner. I don't know Karl that well as recently he hasconcentrated on overseas rallies rather than in the UK. I met him on the Tuareg Rally in 2015 when we were both racing in the amateur class, although in the under and over 50s respectively. It did look a bit strange, turning up on his Factory replica KTM 450RR in the "amateurs" but he explained he was using the race as a warm up for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge that year, all part of his journey to the Dakar!
Lyndon Poskitt is racing in his second Dakar having finished 46th on his first attempt in 2013. It is a great achievement for most riders to just finish on their first attempt so getting in the top 50 was a great result. Lyndon used to race in the ATRC on his KTM 950 Adventure and then on his old model KTM 450RR when preparing for 2013 but more recently has been travelling the world on his "Races to Places" odyssey. Riding round the world whilst taking in a number of the great Rally races all on the same bike. For the 2017 Dakar he is doing it a little differently, having ridden the length of the Americas on his trusty KTM "Basil" he has swapped it for a new KTM 450RR (named "Rex") to race this year in the Malle Moto class. this is the unsupported class where riders have to do all their own maintenance and are only allowed a single crate for spares etc (Malle = Crate in French) and a spare set of wheels. Representing the original spirit of the Dakar as an Adventure rather than just a race and has to be the hardest way of doing the rally. Look out for Lyndon Poskitt Racing
Other Brits to look out for in 2017 are KTM factory rider Sam Sunderland who is not only up for the win but hoping to finish his first Dakar having been sidelined by mechanical breakdown or injury in his previous attempts.
And last but not least is Max Hunt, a bit of an unknown quantity, his brother Harry raced in the car category in 2016 and was due to race again in 2017 but a crash in Morocco has forced him to withdraw. Max is an ex road racer and base jumper so it'll be interesting to see how well he goes, although a podium finish at the Libya Rally shows good promise.