For those who get an adrenaline rush from speed, rally raids, often known as cross country rallying can literally sweep you off your feet. Rally raids are a form of long-distance off-road racing which takes place over a span of 3 to 15 days. Racers can end up traveling almost 560 miles (900 km) a day.
While there are many rally raid races that take place around the world, the FIA Cross Country Rally allows racers to rally raid for the World Cup.
The three competitive groups in off-road rally raiding are motorcycle (moto) class, car class, and truck class.
The moto class is further divided into three groups:
- Marathon – This group includes motorcycles that have been mildly modified. Separate races take place for engines of greater than 451 cc and smaller engines.
- Super-Production bikes – These bikes see a similar subdivision of engines greater or less than 451 cc. The super-production bikes have gone through a notable modification.
- Quads – Two-wheel and four-wheel quad bikes make up Group 3 of the moto class. They are divided further into engines more than 500cc and those less than 500cc.
Baja and Dakar Rallies are considered to be the most prominent moto rally raid racing events. KTM and Yamaha are known to be the best among bikes used in moto rally races.
The car class consists of vehicles weighing less than 3,500 kg and is divided into 3 groups as well which is the T1, T2, and Open class
- T1 – The T1 Group comprises of improved cross country vehicles.
- T2 – This group is made up of Cross Country Series Production Vehicles.
- Open Class – This class is made up of weight qualifying vehicles like the SCORE international trucks.
Vehicles weighing more than 3500 kg are listed under truck class. They are divided into two groups:
- T4 – This class of trucks participate in competitions and covers production and modified trucks.
- T5 – The T5 trucks are used for providing support to other vehicles participating in the rally.
Rally Raid Races
Some of the most popular rally raid races are:
Dakar Rally – The Amaury Sport Organization produces the annual Dakar Rally Raid races which were held at Paris, Dakar, and Senegal until 2007. The 2008 race was cancelled due to security threats and since 2009 the race is being held in South America. The Dakar Rally provides a racing platform to amateurs as well as professionals.
Budapest-Bamako – Also known as the Great African run, the Budapest-Bamako rally raid is the world’s largest, amateur rally raid race in the world. With no entry restrictions and an exciting track, the race promises a sense of adventure as the vehicles race through Austria, Hungary, Italy, Western Sahara, Morocco, France, Spain, Mauritania, and Mali.
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Raid de Himalaya – This rally raid race takes place in Asia. With the Himalayan terrain to challenge the racers, the racing is an extreme endurance event. It is considered to be the world’s highest rally raid at 6000 metres which also makes it one of the toughest rally raid races.
Rallye Des Pharaons – French for the Pharoah’s rally, the Rallye des Pharaons starts and ends at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza giving the entire race a theatrical vibe. With most of the rally taking place in desert conditions, the rally covers approximately 3,100 kilometres of rough terrain.
Incidents Marking Rally Raid Races
The enthralling nature of rally raid racing has often transformed into gruesome events where racers or ordinary citizens lost their lives. Some of the incidents are:
Three participants and three local residents were killed in the 1988 Dakar rally race. One of the three residents was a 10 year old girl who lost her life crossing the road.
The 2003 Dakar Rally race saw the deaths of Daniel Nebot, Jose Manuel and Fabrizio Meoni. Fabrizio was two time winner of the event.
In 2004 Richard Sainct lost his life in the Rallye Des Pharaons when his motorcycle went off the course.
In 2009 motorcyclist Pascal Terry’s body was found after three days on a remote part of the Dakar rally race track.
A woman watching the race lost her life as a vehicle went off the course in the 2010 Dakar rally race.
Rally raid races are known for their dangers just as much as they are popular for their exciting nature. The rally races try to enforce safety rules and regulations to avoid any incidents. While racers have become more careful, the thrill of competition often leads to unseen dangers, which can harm the racers and others around them.