• History
  • Rally car evolution

Paris–Madrid race of May 1903, the Mors of Fernand Gabriel (fr), running over the same roads, took just under five and a quarter hours for the 550 km (340 mi) to Bordeaux, an average of 105 km/h (65.3 mph). Speeds had now far outstripped the safe limits of dusty highways thronged with spectators and open to other traffic, people and animals; there were numerous crashes, many injuries and eight deaths. The French government stopped the race and banned this style of event.[5] From then on, racing in Europe (apart from Italy) would be on closed circuits, initially on long loops of public highway and then, in 1907, on the first purpose-built track, England's Brooklands.[6] Racing was going its own separate way.


The 1974 London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally followed four years later. The rally travelled southwards into Africa but a navigational error saw most of the rally become lost in Algerian desert. Eventually only seven teams reached the southernmost point of the rally in Nigeria with five teams making it back to West Germany having driven all legs and only the winning team completing the full distance. This, coupled with the economic climate of the 1970s the heat went out of intercontinental rallying after a second London–Sydney Marathon in 1977. The concept though was revived in 1979 for the original Paris-Dakar Rally. The success of the Dakar would eventually see intercontinental rallying recognised as its own discipline; the Rally Raid.


03The term "rally", as a branch of motorsport, probably dates from the first Monte Carlo Rally of January 1911. Until the late 1920s, few if any other events used the term.[1] Rallying itself can be traced back to the 1894 Paris–Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux), sponsored by a Paris newspaper, Le Petit Journal, which attracted considerable public interest and entries from leading manufacturers. Prizes were awarded to the vehicles by a jury based on the reports of the observers who rode in each car; the official winner was Albert Lemaître driving a 3 hp Peugeot, although the Comte de Dion had finished first but his steam powered vehicle was ineligible for the official competition.[2]




The main change over that period has been in the cars, and in the professionalisation and commercialisation of the sport. Manufacturers had entered works cars in rallies, and in their forerunner and cousin events, from the very beginning: the 1894 Paris-Rouen was mainly a competition between them, while the Thousand Mile Trial of 1900 had more trade than private entries.

Although there had been exceptions like the outlandish Ford V8 specials created by the Romanians for the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, rallies before World War II had tended to be for standard or near-standard production cars, a rule supported by manufacturers because it created a relatively even playing field. After the war, most competing cars were production saloons or sports cars, with only minor modifications to improve performance, handling, braking and suspension. This kept costs down and allowed many more people to afford the sport using ordinary family cars, so entry lists grew into the hundreds.

This event led directly to a period of city-to-city road races in France and other European countries, which introduced many of the features found in later rallies: individual start times with cars running against the clock rather than head to head; time controls at the entry and exit points of towns along the way; road books and route notes; and driving over long distances on ordinary, mainly gravel, roads, facing hazards such as dust, traffic, pedestrians and farm animals.

The first of these great races was the Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race of June 1895, won by Paul Koechlin in a Peugeot, despiting arriving 11 hours after Émile Levassor in a Panhard et Levassor.[3] Levassor's time for the 1,178 km (732 mi) course, running virtually without a break, was 48 hours and 48 minutes, an average speed of 24 km/h (15 mph).[4] Just eight years later, in the


Program of the 2016

Following the decision of Peru to withdraw from the 2016 edition, the Dakar has leaned on its knowledge of the Argentinean and Bolivian territories to come up with an alternate route. Thanks to the unwavering support of the Argentinian government as well as of the Bolivian authorities, the new route calls for daring, on the technical and high-speed stages… but not only.

In three and a half months' time the Dakar's competitors and teams will finally come together in Buenos Aires! After three weeks' intense work on the ground together with the authorities of the host countries, who have shown exceptional capability, the rally teams have been able to design a route whose features remain faithful to the values of the event in every respect.

Thanks to the immediate involvement and unfailing commitment of the Bolivian and Argentinian authorities, we have found the right technical solutions to take on the new challenge posed to us at the end of August. The loyalty of the institutions in the two countries to the Dakar means we are now in a position to offer competitors a quality event for 2016,” says Dakar General Manager Etienne Lavigne.

While the dates, the number of stages and the distance of the stages will remain the same, the nature of the terrain proposed will force the competitors to employ a different driving approach and shift up one gear. There will be fewer dunes and more technical tracks on the opening three days, which will take the rally to San Salvador de Jujuy. Then, a new idea has been devised to reach Bolivia, particularly the bivouac at Uyuni, where vehicles from all the categories will come together this time. “Before arriving there, the competitors will be placed in a new marathon configuration,” explains Marc Coma, Sporting Director of the event. “We are going to set up a strict Parc Fermé at Jujuy while the support vehicles drive the long route to Uyuni. The Bolivian section maintains the feature of three days' racing at high altitude”.

After having reached Salta for the 10 January rest day, the Dakar will head to Rosario by taking the route initially designed for the 2016 edition. The six stages to be contested in the foothills of the Andes were concocted precisely to offer a demanding and complicated end of the rally, with sandy stages, most notably in the Fiambala sector. The Sporting Director of the event, Marc Coma, who has recently supervised the reconnaissance for this part of the race, cautions precisely that “the idea of endurance will live up to all its meaning on these stages, because the bikes and quads will have to cope with a second marathon stage in week two. I have a feeling that changes at the sharp end of the general classification will be more than likely on these stages.”

Program of the 2016 Dakar:
31/12 and 01/01: Administrative and technical checks
02/01: Start podium in Buenos Aires / Prologue / Liaison to Bivouac "0" close to Rosario
03/01: Buenos Aires - Villa Carlos Paz
04/01: Villa Carlos Paz - Termas de Río Hondo
05/01: Termas de Río Hondo - Jujuy
06/01: Jujuy - Jujuy
07/01: Jujuy - Uyuni
08/01: Uyuni - Uyuni
09/01: Uyuni - Salta
10/01: Rest day in Salta
11/01: Salta - Belén
12/01: Belén - Belén
13/01: Belén - La Rioja
14/01: La Rioja - San Juan
15/01: San Juan - Villa Carlos Paz
16/01: Villa Carlos Paz - Rosario

Intercontinental rallying

The quest for longer and tougher events saw the re-establishment of the intercontinental rallies beginning with the London–Sydney Marathon held in 1968. The rally trekked across Europe, the Middle-East and the sub-continent before boarding a ship in Bombay to arrive in Fremantle eight days later before the final push across Australia to Sydney. The huge success of this event saw the creation of the World Cup Rallies, linked to Association Football's FIFA World Cup. The first was the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally which saw competitors travel from London eastwards across to Bulgaria before turning westwards on a more southerly route before boarding a ship in Lisbon. Disembarking in Rio de Janeiro the route travelled southward into Argentina before turning northwards along the western coast of South America before arriving in Mexico City.