Dakar Rally infographic from Safelite.Enlarge Photo
First staged in 1978, the Dakar is known as one of the toughest racing events in the world. The original route took competitors from Paris to Dakar, Senegal, but political unrest forced the organizers to move the rally to South America in 2009.
The current incarnation of the Dakar starts in Rosario, Argentina and finishes in Valparaiso, Chile, covering 13 stages and a total distance of over 5,200 miles, passing through Bolivia on the way.
However, MINI won't be the most popular badge this year. Of the total number of car entries, 47 will be Toyotas. Ford, Chevrolet, and other carmakers will also field entries.
None of the automotive entries will have to put up with quite as much abuse as the motorcycles and their riders, though. During three "Marathon Stages"--including one that lasts for 987 miles--riders are not eligible for support from their teams.
Of course, none of these statistics and factoids captures the sheer determination and bravery required to run such a course at speed, but that's what the race broadcasts are for. Study the above infographic for these and other interesting facts, and get ready to cheer on the competitors as they roll into Valparaiso January 18.