What are your thoughts on the Dakar this year? Mine are the same as ever, I'm addicted. I love the ups and downs (literally and emotionally), the speed, the complexity, the comradeship, the bikes (obvs), the cars, the classics, the trucks, even the fesh fesh (dust).
I still love the idea of the Dakar and hope to compete one day. Although, note to self, I'm not getting any younger, so I'd best get onto it.
My nightly ritual of sitting and watching it transports me for an hour. It ignites the dreams and the excitement that riding brings. It reminds me that it is special, a once in a year event, a once in a lifetime experience for the competitors (even those that compete more than once).
The thing that gets me every year is that it showcases the best there is in life. It shows us the power of working together, shoulder to shoulder, toward a goal. The triumph and heartbreak, as things go right and inevitably, as they go wrong. There is the struggle to achieve the ultimate goal, for some the podium, or the finish line, for others just to get to the start is achievement enough.
There are glimpses of some of the worst in life too. So far this year, we have not seen any fatalities (touch wood that it continues that way) however some years we have. We have seen what some would consider to be fairly unsportsmanlike behaviour (de Villiers we're looking at you). Penalties rescinded or not, I think it’s fair to stop when you hit someone or run over their bike.
This is true both in Dakar, and in everyday life!
And while none of us was there to witness it, this behaviour coupled with the low key shifting of blame to his co-driver for accidentally turning off the Sentinal system, and then a revelation that it wasn’t working from the start has a waft of ruthlessness about it. Surely the safety system being out of order is enough of a reason to disqualify the vehicle, if it means both themselves and other individuals could be at risk?
In his defence, the Officials have seen fit to overturn the penalty after hearing both sides of the story. And as much I love the race, I think that the death threats that de Villiers has reportedly received are horrendous and unacceptable. Come on people, it’s just a race. Don’t lose your humanity over it.
We've seen the heartbreak and bone breaks when things don't go to plan but through it all, we still come back to the joy, the exhilaration, the excitement. With 2 days to go, I continue to be glued to it all and relish my daily immersion into all things Dakar.
I only hope that the TV Gods, see how much we love it and decide to cover the Africa Eco Race next year!