Danger at Dakar
Danger is nothing new to the Dakar Rally, and Saturday was supposed to be the day rally racers like Carlos Sainz began their 16-day, 5,760-mile adventure across some of the world’s most lethal terrain.
But the threat of an al-Qaida-linked attack on the vulnerable Dakar Rally — an inviting target that zigzags through barren, unpopulated areas in western Africa — forced organizers to call off the epic event Friday. They cited warnings from the French government after the Dec. 24 al-Qaida-linked slaying of four French tourists in Mauritania, home of eight of the rally’s 15 stages.
Part of the Dakar’s charm is its tough geography, but the lawlessness of the land won out. For the first time in 30 years, dune buggies won’t negotiate endless camel grass and motorcycles won’t kick up sand in the Sahara.
Sainz, who drives the Red Bull Volkswagen, was a favorite to win after claiming five stages in 2007. “You spend a year preparing for this rally. It is a year of hopes and dreams lost,” the Spaniard said.