“The Dakar has to continue to be difficult”


After having spent twenty hectic days in which there was hardly time to think, practically everything was based on acting, now comes the time to reflect on how a Dakar has gone, which for many has been the most extreme in recent times. The activity has been constant, the stages long and the days of the race more than enough for all the drivers. Although despite this and the fatigue, David Castera, director of the race, is clear that They have found “a balance that we have been looking for for a while”. They have had to go through four editions in Saudi Arabia to give shape, more or less, to the test they wanted. But at least the edition says goodbye with its “satisfied” organizer and with several plans ahead in the Saudi desert.

The landing of the Dakar in Arab territory has raised several debates since its announcement about whether it would be the best option for the rally, but over time Castera is convinced that Arabia has become a zone where there is still ground to be exploited after having “had new tracks and new territories”. Perhaps that is simply part of the vastness of the desert, be it this one or any other, but in the end the Frenchman has found “a real balance in terms of difficulty”, which takes precedence over all other opinions: “The Dakar is a difficult test and it has to remain so. We have gone little by little, going up year after year, until we have an optimal balance”.

The first assessment of what the rally has been is positive according to Castera’s words. The edition had “a good race” despite how selective it was with great protagonists who brought down the emotion prematurely, but simply because of how the Dakar reached the last stage with the motorcycles, it seems that the rest of the outcomes are justified: “The podium was decided in the last stage, something that had never happened before. I am a satisfied organizer”. Things are working out the way the French would like. And despite the fact that when things are going well it doesn’t make any sense to think about other options, it seems that there will be decisions that will change course from the next edition.

“The number of days of the race is not the most important thing,” admits Castera, after seeing how the longest rally in recent years It has ended up exhausting the participants. What is truly relevant? “The content”, like that of those decisive stages that could even with applicants who previously defeated the desert. “We’ll see what we propose for the next one, but we sure keep the ‘Empty Quarter’ (empty room) with some modification. You have to keep the good ingredients from this year.” And two stages that were infinitely less decisive and complicated than expected, it seems that they are.

The room was empty, although with emotions. Something that for Castera has an explanation in a test that combines professionals with amateurs: “It is very difficult to go further with the dunes and raise the level, because it is easy to immediately have to interrupt the race.” This is what led the rally director to opt “for prudence” in a decision that, otherwise, It would have meant “losing 40 or 50 percent of the pilots in the blink of an eye by three impossible dunes or too soft sand”.

The future in Saudi Arabia

Combining difficulty with accessibility for each and every one of the participants has been possible thanks to “a territory and a country that are a true partner of the race.” For Castera “the Dakar would not have the appeal it has today without this country (Saudi Arabia)” and although he does not rule out changing territory in the future, “going out just to go out has no interest”. “If we leave a country, it will have to be to propose something that is up to the task and, right now, we have everything we need in Saudi Arabia. When we go out it will be big, but we will prepare it with a lot of time and a lot of head”, he sentenced


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