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Even if you're not really a fan of offroad motorcycle racing, the Dakar Rally is one of those races that speaks to the soul on a whole other level. It's so much more than a test of a racers ability on a motorcycle. The Dakar tests your mind, your body and your spirit. Of course there is a winner at the end, but just arriving at the finish line is a truly amazing achievement.
This year, the Dakar runs from January 5th to January 20th 2013 and is once again facing the challenging terrain of Peru, Argentina and Chile. However, this time around things will be a little different from the start as the desert stages will, for the first time ever, come within the first few days of the rally. I wonder what this will mean to the rate of attrition in the early stages of the rally and how it will affect the standings? The dunes are notorious for putting an end to many a competitors Dakar bid and for those that do make it through, it can be a long and punishing journey.
The 2012 edition saw Cyril Despres take his fourth Dakar title and he will be back again this year to try for another.
Following Cyril Despres' victory last year, the Austrian-based KTM collected its 11th consecutive Dakar title. KTM has won every Dakar Rally since 2001 (with the exception of 2008 when the event was canceled due to security threats). This year, Honda are back with something new. The CRF450 Rally model (which is based on Honda's commercial CRF450X enduro racing model) was introduced at the INTERMOT 2012, International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bicycle Fair in Cologne, Germany. Honda has competed 9 times from 1981 in the forerunner of the present Dakar Rally, the Paris-Dakar Rally. Cyril Neveu rode Honda to its first victory in 1982, the race's fourth year, and from 1986 to 1989 Honda won four consecutive titles for an overall record of five victories in nine years.
Honda will have their work cutout for them though as KTM riders Cyril Despres and Marc Coma hold an impressive 7 Dakar wins between them and are the clear favourites once again this year.
Stoked? Yes, me too.