OPINION: Dakar, motorsport’s last free zone

OPINION: Dakar, motorsport’s last free zone

The motorized vehicles whizzed at full speed into the gorgeous, preserved landscape of a controversial destination: on paper, Paris-Dakar, which has been neither leaving Paris nor arriving in Dakar for a very long time, ticks all the right non-essential boxes to be urgently banned. However.

Forty-five years after the first edition, a captivating scent still floats around the queen of rally events, as they have become increasingly rare: the scent of adventure.

While our perpetually entertained society will digest its end-of-year feasts in front of a bad Netflix movie (pleonasm), men and women will once again prefer to spend New Year’s Day thousands of kilometers from home, lost in the middle. The desert, but with a much larger and more enjoyable playground than the parks and gardens of our cities.

Naturally, the “gunpowder” of the first Dakar gave way to highly professional structures not really focused on bohemianism. You only have to look at the Toyota, Prodrive, and Audi programs to be convinced. All you have to do is listen to David Castera, the event’s chairman, as he criticizes the whims of stars Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz. You have to live with the times.

But the magic has not completely disappeared. Because in the vastness of the Saudi landscape, as it was in the past amid the sand dunes of West Africa or the plateaus of South America, racing sometimes (often) takes on a secondary aspect.

When the mechanical odyssey turns into an initiatory journey amidst a virgin nature that is brutal and hostile, but of extraordinary beauty and purity.

Yes, Dakar is completely outdated, and as indecent as the COP that was organized in the Gulf countries. However, the event retains an unparalleled magic power.

Because by making our explorer’s spirit resonate, it appeals to our deeper nature and reveals the sensibilities we thought modernity had once and for all tamed: self-transcendence, the love of beauty, the sense of resourcefulness, the praise of patience…and fraud!

In this last space of freedom that is the desert, no one sees you or judges you: a certain idea of ​​happiness.

Everything is order, beauty, luxury, tranquility and sensuality. / © DBI

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