Unfiltered editor – big deal with Dakar?

Apart from their journalistic rigor and perspective as automotive professionals, the editorial staff are first and foremost motorists and ordinary citizens. In “Editors without filters” it is the heart that speaks first of all! Today, Alain Devos explains why he changed his mind about the famous Dakar Rally.

>> Read also – All topics of filterless editors

Those who know me a little know that I am a big fan of motor sports. So much so that sometimes I myself began to consider it a kind of addiction. Thankfully, gone are the days of watching half a dozen races on TV in one weekend. Formula 1, WEC, DTM, Nascar and the occasional rally via internet subscription… for three days. With good planning, I actually managed to do it sometimes.

But of course, that didn’t make him any less crazy, on the contrary. In the meantime, I’ve already partially kicked the habit, without even having to go to therapy for it. Although I still barricade the front door (against unexpected visitors) when there’s an F1 race on Sunday. Anyway, I can watch it “belatedly” now if no one tells me the result.

Indy 500 or Pikes Peak?

I try to attend at least one local Grand Prix every year, I’ll race the 24 Hours of Le Mans from time to time, and I still enjoy fond memories of the Nascar and IndyCar cars I’ve seen and heard on American tracks. The highlight is my first Indy 500.

However, the legendary International Hill Climb at Pikes Peak in Colorado, especially for American car enthusiasts, also has a nice setting on my wall of great motorsports memories.

Moral considerations

Ironically, the Dakar, arguably one of the most important events on the motorcycling calendar during Africa’s heyday, rarely, if ever, fascinated me. From a distance, it often looked more like a navigational exercise than an actual car race. The race has also claimed many lives among the participants and even the public during its 44 years of existence.

The 2023 edition was unfortunately no exception, perhaps due to the “mistake” of an audience member who took too many risks and died for that very reason. Africa has not been visited since 2009, and after ten editions in South America, the Dakar has been contested in Saudi Arabia since 2020.

Again, with some moral reservations, but you must do them for any football championship or cycling race where dubious regimes want to “show their best face to the world”.

Great adventure

So when my curiosity outweighed my suspicions, I flipped the switch and flew to the capital Riyadh in early January to spend a few days in Dakar. Of course, it’s not about being completely absorbed by it; it probably only works if you’re involved.

But between the two days of real rallying in the desert, I immersed myself in the supposed sensations of the “real” Dakar during the rest day. I spent it in a camp just outside the capital city of Riyadh, which covered 24 football fields and was home to around 3,500 drivers, mechanics and many other servants during the race.

The enthusiasm of the people traveling with us in very primitive conditions proved particularly infectious. From the casual enthusiast to the multiple winners, no one feels comfortable asking for a fix or talking to a Dakar journalist.

Respect and nothing else

The 2023 edition was, as we mentioned, very difficult. According to the route, but especially from the (unexpected) rain and cold. Cyclists who sleep only a few hours a night, or truck drivers who spend 48 hours in a row… in the middle of nowhere with their wrecked cars, are perhaps the true heroes of the Dakar. And no matter how hard it was, they all decided they wanted to compete again next year.

I still don’t think it’s a real motorsport, but it’s one more adventure. In the true glory days of the Dakar in Africa, there will surely be even more. In fact, looking back, it’s a shame I listened then. Only fools never change their minds, as they say. So I agree, I’m not stupid!

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