In Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, the drivers and the teams of the Dakar 2015 will discover (or rediscover) the finesse, as well as the harshness of off-road races in the purest sense. Cars and trucks which had not taken part in marathon stages since 2005 will be entitled to do so this year. And a few new features have been added, such as the alternate rest days, changing the overall pace of the rally.
Marathon stages for everyone
For the past three years, the Dakar’s route has featured marathon stages for competitors in the motorcycle and quad categories, in line with the founding principles of off-road races. Competitors cannot call upon their support teams for two race days. Isolated in a bivouac to which only drivers have access, they themselves have to carry out any repairs and maintenance work which may be required before setting off the next day. This constraint obviously means they need to manage their equipment, thus introducing additional strategic considerations.
The marathon stages also have a unique friendly atmosphere and competitors retain fond memories of participating in them. In the 2015 edition, the principle of these marathon stages will be extended to all categories. The car crews will therefore also have a specific bivouac, as will the trucks.
Separate routes… and even alternate rest days!
The routes marked out in recent years have confirmed the advantages of separating the routes taken by the various categories involved. In the 2014 edition, this concerned five stages and nearly 40% of the total distance covered, resulting in advantages in terms of driver comfort, safety, the variety of terrains and thus increased the interest of the race in sporting terms.
The Dakar 2015’s route has been created with these objectives in mind, taking the idea even further by organising separate rest days for the different categories. The town of Iquique, which this year features at the northern tip of the route, will thus play host to the rally bivouac for three days, at the foot of its famous descent.