London to Dakar 2005
12th - 31st January 2005
Here are the answers to those regular question we are asked about the London to Dakar. We will add more answers to questions as they arise. Barbara and Heidi in the London to Dakar rally office can always give advice on any questions you may have. Call the Rally Office for more information.
Do I need previous experience?
No, and it's hard to think of any event that could fully prepare you for this adventure. We will be giving training and advice for some essential special knowledge to get you safely to Dakar. We can suggest some short training events that help you get to grips with time-keeping, and the basics of rallymanship, and this could make a very big difference to your general confidence. There is a shorter less demanding event into Morocco in October to get a feel for the desert.
What's the entry fee?
The entry fee is £6,500 for a car and crew of two (this rises to £7,500 in July). We hope the reduced rate fee will give us a better idea of numbers and help us with more efficient organisation. There are many aspects to running a motorsport competition to Dakar. Hotels; Insurance; Safety backup; Mobile workshops; Ferries; Providing fuel, food and camping to the desert sections; Trained Medical and Marshal crews; Months of planning and route-note making too. We also produce a full route book and a safety plan - it would be irresponsible not to do so. It's an adventure, yes, but essentially it is MOTORSPORT. The London to Dakar rally is an event run by a responsible and professional team with the full co-operation of the authorities in the countries we cross. The fees charged represent the best value possible for such a challenging event.
Do I have to spend nights in a tent?
One of the great experiences of travelling in the Sahara is the sight of the stars in the sky without the light pollution we suffer back home. Having said that we also know that everyone wants a shower, some good food and a comfortable bed at the end of a hard days rallying. So, in answer, we expect one night to be spent camping. From Nouadhibou to Nouakchott in Mauritania is too far to be completed safely in a single section so there will be an overnight camp. Crews will need their own tent and bedding but the organisers will be providing food and all the other facilities to make this a great feature of the adventure. For every other night we are making hotel arrangements to use the best available hotels at each overnight stop. These range from International 5-star hotels to those that are somewhat smaller! Our recce team enjoy their creature comforts and reckon the selected hotels are much better than expected and certainly much better than some they tried and rejected.
Do I need a special competition licence to take part?
No, your regular driving licence is all that's required. You need to be a member of the organising club but that is arranged as part of the entry fee. The London to Dakar is an FIA event that has the support of the appropriate National Motor Clubs. The Royal Federation of Morocco Motor Club, and the Senegal Motor Club, are involved, well before the start, to provide a whole range of facilities.
What special skills do I need?
Apart from the usual rally requirements of a reliable car and the determination to get to the end the London to Dakar will make some special demands. To find all the rally checkpoints and make your way safely through the desert you will need to navigate by GPS. We will be running GPS navigation courses to ensure that all crews have the necessary knowledge. (NOTE: Don't rush out and buy any GPS receiver as the Rally Office will be giving advice on the most suitable equipment).
Will I get stuck in the sand?
Driving on sand is a skill you probably won't already have. Although the route is carefully chosen as the most suitable for two-wheel-drive cars there will inevitably be some soft patches. Local drivers make sand driving look so easy it comes hard to admit that we need to learn the skill. We will be providing advice on sand driving techniques but it will be up to you to learn from the advice and follow the recommended route and avoid the monster dunes.
I've heard that cars over five years old are not allowed in Senegal.
The Organisers will help you get the proper documentation to ensure there is no problem taking you car through Senegal. A customs carnet for each vehicle will convince the authorities that you intend to take your car home with you after the event.
How do I get my car home?
No, we don't expect you to turn round and drive home. The cars go on a ferry from Dakar and the crews fly home. Our recce vehicle was back in Tilbury just a week after we left it at the Dakar docks. After organising rallies around the world and across Africa we are well used to vehicle shipping so we know the best agents to get your car home with the minimum hassle.