The 33rd Dakar rally, a world famous stand alone off road race, began today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event covers more than 9000km in 13 stages of varied terrain, from motorway to desert pistes and mountain tracks, with 445 competitors on cars, motorcycles, trucks and ATVs. With 180 entrants, the motorcycle category is the largest. Austrian firm KTM has been the dominant machine in past years, when rules allowed large displacement motors (900cc +), but with new restrictions limiting engine size to 450cc, the brand's monopoly may be challenged. Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki are represented without direct factory support, while many European OEMs such as Rieju and GasGas have fielded official teams.
The event, named for its original destination of Dakar, Senegal in west Africa, has taken place in South America for the past three years, after mounting concerns about rider safety in politically disturbed areas of Africa caused several high profile incidents. This year the race runs in two countries, Argentina and Chile.
via A.S.O Dakar