Dakar, Dakar, Dakar. Dakar everywhere. It’s like this every time at the turn of the year, when a famous and demanding event is held, where pilots on motorcycles, in buggies, cars, and even in trucks give it to each other in the desert.
However, this audience-attractive show has its other side, the commercial one. Race participation is not cheap, so we think that such a start will cost you an incredible rocket. For how much? That’s what we asked the experienced Dakar matador Ondra Klymčiw.
Idea and application
Before you even start implementing the Dakar idea, you first need to decide in which category you will go. We offer, for example, motorcycles, cars, trucks, buggies, specials or vintage cars (Classic). The second factor is whether you want to go for the result or just enjoy the race, i.e. finish calmly in 50th place, but satisfied.
“The majority of people go to Dakar to enjoy themselves, to have fun, to get to know it, to gain experience, but there is also a minority who go for life and death, literally,” Klymčiw adds to the introduction.
Finances usually decide the category and style of racing, as they play a major role in the Dakar. First of all, you need a suitable and sufficiently modified vehicle, spare parts for it, buy or rent an assistance car, take care of insurance for everything possible, secure and pay the people around you (e.g. mechanics), or have the whole team built on a turnkey basis. And here too, the less work for you, the greater the loss for your wallet.
If you are applying for the Classic category, where veterans ride, then you do not need to qualify, however, if you are heading to the main category, you must go to a World Championship. And that costs another 15–20,000 euros (367–490,000 CZK). And to that you have to add your own physical preparation and training, which also cost a lot of money.
“Furthermore, of course, the start fee and various fees are paid. In the end, you will find that buying a vehicle and modifying it is the smallest item. Expressed in numbers, this whole basic package for the cheapest variant, i.e. for a motorcycle, will cost about 100,000 euros (2.4 million crowns) without taking into account the qualification, with the fact that you already own a lot of things and parts,” explains Klymčiw.
Embarkation and arrival
If you register, pay, meet the conditions, the equipment will be loaded before the Dakar. This took place in Barcelona for the year 2024, where all vehicles (racing, assistance, residential) had to be transported at their own expense. Technical inspections of racing vehicles are also held on site, equipment and clothing are checked, which is different for each category.
When the vehicle is released to the race, you hand over the keys to everything and drive back to your home. In the meantime, the organizers will transport all the equipment by boat to the destination and let you know when, where and at what time you should pick up your vehicle a few days before the start.
“Transportation to the place is arranged by everyone, most often by air. After taking over the equipment, you move to the first bivouac called bivouac 0, which is a large tent city for several thousand people, where there are helipads and gas stations. There, the crews also go through administrative checks and print out a chip with health information and access,” explains Klymčiw.
Sleeping on site is handled by everyone (tent, mobile home), as well as electricity (central station). Showers, food, fuel and basic services are provided by the organizer as part of the entry fee.
Race and finish
Every other day is a race where you stand at the start of the stage and drive. The race day always consists of crossings and a sharp section – for example, 400 km of racing, 300 km of transfer. After leaving, you return with the racing vehicle to the bivouac, where your assistance and accompanying equipment should be waiting for you, which moves mostly on roads, so it covers fewer kilometers.
After arrival, it’s time to service the car, or hang out with the other participants. This is how the entire Dakar works, i.e. the start, crossings, sharp kilometers, bivouac.
“The end of the Dakar seems glorious, but in practice it looks like you finish the last stage, they wave you off at the finish line, you get to the last bivouac, where there is a finish ramp and announcement. The next day you hand over the equipment for boarding and fly home at your own expense. In three weeks to a month, you will pick up the equipment at the designated place (for 2024 Barcelona), but you must be there on the exact day, time and hour,” reveals Klymčiw.
So, when you calculate it financially and include all the items, participation with a motorcycle costs easily three million or more. For cars, we can be in amounts of around seven million or more, while for drivers in trucks it is no longer even possible to calculate. And we are talking about the Dakar for fun, if you go for a place in the professional categories, the final sums go up to hundreds of millions of crowns for one year.
However, according to Klymčiv, the Dakar Rally has an aura of luxury and prestige, but what you can’t arrange on the spot, you don’t have. Dakar is an expensive sport and a global business, which is its flip side. On the other hand, people like it and competitors flock to it (even repeatedly). Despite all that, how much does the Dakar cost…