Dakar Rally Race: Passion outweighs danger for off-road racers

World Today

YEAR2018-SPORT-FILES-AUTO-MOTO-RALLY-DAKAR-STAGE1In this file photo taken on January 6, 2018 DKR Raid Service’s Spanish driver Cristina Gutierrez Herrero and her co-driver Gabriel Moiset Ferrer crash their Mitsubishi during the Stage 1 of the 2018 Dakar Rally between Lima and Pisco, Peru. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Hundreds are getting ready for a race with few comparisons. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles will soon go off-road for a 9,000 kilometer trek across Peru.

One racer explained his obsession to CGTN’s Michelle Begue.

34-year-old Christian Cajica has been riding motorcycles since he was eight-years-old. 

“My passion for motorcycles began at home. My dad was a motorcross national champion,” he explained. “In our home we always saw helmets, and motorcycle parts.”

Cajica’s lifelong passion and vocation for motorcycles are what led him to race in what many consider the most dangerous motor sporting event in the world, the Dakar Rally. The 9,000-kilometer race takes drivers across the mountains and deserts of South America.

“You really challenge your body, but you also have to work on your mental training, because through time your mind becomes just as important as your body.”


Argentinian biker Diego Martin Duplessis competes during Stage 7 of the 2018 Dakar Rally between La Paz and Uyuni, Bolivia, on January 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

For participants, it’s a 14 -day event with up to 1,000 kilometers daily while driving at high speeds.  The unpaved and unmarked trails make it a treacherous and dangerous event for the more than 350 participants.

Since it began in 1978, 28 participants have died in the sporting event. 

The other challenge is having the resources to participate in the event.  Drivers can pay more than $75,000 in entry fees, equipment, and mechanics.

Cajica said it has also been possible thanks to support from his family, primarily his father and uncle.

“With our friends we tried to collect money,” his uncle Hernando Pinto said. “Some help us with the groceries, others give us blankets, others a mattress. We have received a lot of help from friends and have even put together events to gather funds.”

2018 Dakar Rally - Day Thirteen

Nicolas Cavigliasso of Argentina and Team al Desert rides a Yamaha YFZ 450 quad bike in the Classe : GQ.1 : 2 Roues Motrices – 0 during stage thirteen of the 2018 Dakar Rally between San Juan and Cordoba on January 19, 2018. (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

The effort paid off. In 2015, Christian was able to enter his first Dakar race; he ranked 5th in the 4×4 Quads category.

“We Colombians have a lot of heart and that moves us,” Cajica explained. “That motivation to do things right, to be the best…. I think that gives us an advantage against other drivers.”

This Colombian driver’s next challenge will be the 2019 Dakar Rally, taking place January 6th through the 17th.