And while the race for victory is sure to grab the majority of the media’s attention, it’s behind the leading teams that lies another battle to finish inside the top 15.
In 2012, one of hard enduro’s toughest competitors made his Dakar Rally debut – and a successful one at that. For South African Darryl Curtis, competing in the rally was a lifelong dream that finally became a reality.
“I’ve always wanted to compete in the Dakar Rally,” told Darryl. “For the majority of my racing career my main focus has been on hard enduro. Tough events like the Roof of Africa, Red Bull Romaniacs and Erzberg have always appealed to me but the Dakar Rally is the toughest of them all so that was the next step to take.”
After securing an entry for the race, Curtis readied himself for the biggest challenge he could ever face. However, after months of planning and preparation for event, he arrived in South America only to find his bike hadn’t made it that far.
“The start of last year’s race was a real panic. My bike never arrived when it was supposed to. I only managed to get it at 9pm on the evening before the race started. I literally pushed it onto the start ramp, had it scrutinised and then rode off to begin the race.
“The first few days were a real eye opener. I’d never really read a road book before and I spent the first week just trying to figure it all out. Most of the time I followed someone in the hope that they knew where they were going.”
As the days passed, Curtis’ confidence grew and with it so did his pace. Gradually, he began to work his way up the leader board and into a faster group of riders. Eventually reaching the finish line in a highly respectable 22nd overall, the South African delivered a solid result in his first attempt.
Now with a year of rally experience under his belt and his Broadlink KTM Rally Team receiving factory support, Darryl has his sights set on breaking the top 15 in 2013.
“This year I have a much better idea of what to expect. I’m more comfortable with the high-speed stuff and have worked hard to improve my navigation skills. Overall I feel a better rider.
“We’ve expanded the team to two riders and KTM have come on board to help us. Their support will be invaluable to ensuring a successful result. Taking all that I’ve learned into consideration I believe the potential is there to score a top 15 result.”