The Dakar Rally is arguably the most well-known offroad event in the world. Not only is it known for its incredible length, taking place over multiple countries, it’s also infamous for how difficult it is to complete. Thousands have participated in the event, but only the most talented and industrious drivers and riders actually make it to the end.
Since it first began in 1977, there have always been multiple vehicle classes. This gives many more riders a chance to take part in the Dakar, but currently there are 5 classes in total. This included cars, motorcycles, quads, trucks, and UTVs class. Lots of manufacturers and enthusiasts use the Dakar as a testing ground for their vehicle’s durability – although the majority of the vehicles that take part are purpose-built or modified.
The Trucks Class
Known officially as Group T4, the trucks class has been a part of the Dakar since the beginning of the 1980s. Any vehicle taking part in the event needs to weigh at least 3,500 kilograms – and there are even further subdivisions within the class itself. Some are classified as modified trucks; others are support trucks, while some are known as series production trucks.
The UTV Class
The Utility Task Vehicle is the newest, having been added in 2017. Before this, the class had been a part of the car class, but as it gained popularity, it was decided to give it its own category. It has also since seen a number of further subdivisions.
The Quads Class
The quads class was only introduced in 2009 and had previously been a subcategory of the motorcycle class instead. After 2009, they were named as Group 3, and then subdivided into two groups further, Group D 3.1 as well as Group 3.2: the former being two-wheel drive quads, and the latter four-wheel drives.
The Car Class
Perhaps the broadest class of the five, the car class can include not just small cars, but also larger SUVs and buggies. Any four-wheeled vehicle can be used as long as it weighs less than 3,500 kilograms. Mitsubishi and Mini have historically been the two most successful car brands in the Dakar.
People often underestimate just how popular the event is, similar to other popular sporting events like Wimbledon, both in terms of coverage, sponsorship deals; even Dakar Rally wagering, which is not unlike tennis betting odds and wagers. Other big names also compete, including Peugeot, Porsche, VW, Toyota, Ford, and many others.
The Motorcycle Class
There are also limits to the motorcycle class, specifically to twin cylinder bikes, where the bike was not able to exceed a limit of 450cc, and this was a rule that would also eventually expand to single cylinder vehicles in 2011.
It’s particularly difficult for this class, as there is very limited space available, and it’s harder to carry all necessary repairs. On top of that, because it’s forbidden to have any outside assistance during a problem, all riders will have to perform repairs on their own.