Bespoke Rallies Retraces the Original Paris-Dakar Steps

The first iteration of the Paris-Dakar rally took place in 1977. In 1982, the race was moved to Argentina and a second edition was introduced. That year, the rally was held in Morocco and the event became known as the Paris-Dakar. The name was tweaked again in 1984, when the race was moved back to Argentina and rebranded as the Dakar. The name was then changed again in 1986 when the event was moved to Mauritius, and became the Paris-Dakar Rally.

The Bespoke Rallies retraces the steps that the original Paris-Dakar Rally took in 1975.

In January, I attended the Bespoke Rallies Retraces the Original Paris-Dakar Steps event in Paris, France. The event took place in the beautiful Parc des Expositions in the north of the city, where the original Paris-Dakar Rally took place in 1975. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the Paris-Dakar Rally and was therefore an excellent opportunity to see the route that the original drivers on the race made.

MotoGP may be thrilling, but motorcycles compete in more locations than only on concrete circuits. Off-road areas like as Baja, Mexico, host some of the most severe events. Then there’s the Paris-Dakar Rally, which is one of the most famous events in the world. The Dakar Rally course has evolved dramatically throughout the years. However, Bespoke Rallies, headquartered in the United Kingdom, is bringing certain antique bikes back to the race.

In years, the Dakar Rally hasn’t raced from Paris to Dakar.

Red-clad Cyril Neveu on the red-and-white 1982 Honda XR500R Dakar Rally bike racing through the desert

On the 1982 Honda XR500R Dakar Rally bike, Cyril Neveu | Honda

The name of the Paris-Dakar Rally is a bit of a misnomer these days. The race began in Paris, France, and ended in Dakar, Senegal, when it began in December 1978. Despite the fact that the exact route changed from year to year, the Dakar Rally always began in Paris and finished in Dakar. That is, until it didn’t.

Four French nationals and three Mauritanian troops were killed in Mauritania only days before the start of the Dakar Rally in 2008. Terrorist attacks became more frequent soon after that. As a consequence, the 2008 race was entirely canceled.

The Dakar Rally hasn’t returned to its original ‘home’ since then. The event relocated to South America in 2009, where it will remain until 2019. It has been held in Saudi Arabia from 2020. The 2022 race will also take place there.

Despite the fact that the Dakar Rally has not returned to Africa, intrepid riders continue to go there. The Paris-Dakar Rally, for example, inspired Fuel Motorcycles’ annual Scram Africa. The forthcoming Bespoke Rallies event, on the other hand, is more than a tribute to the race; it’s also a partial replica.

Classic enduro bikes are being brought back to Dakar by Bespoke Rallies.

The route map of the Bespoke Rallies' 2022 Dakar Enduro RallyThe 2022 Dakar Enduro Rally map by Bespoke Rallies | Bespoke Rallies

MCN states that Bespoke Rallies, headquartered in the United Kingdom, has been arranging vintage and classic vehicle rallies for more than two decades. To mention a few, the business has organized events in Sri Lanka, across the Pyrenees, through the Amazon, and throughout Norway. Bespoke Rallies has added a new event for 2022: the Dakar Enduro Rally.

To be fair, RideApart points out that the Dakar Enduro Rally does not begin in Paris. Instead, it begins in Weybridge, England’s Brooklands Museum. However, Bespoke Rallies will take participants south through England, France, Spain, and Morocco over the course of 21 days. The path continues via Western Sahara and Mauritania from there. Dakar is, indeed, the last destination.

A white-blue-and-red RD03-gen 1989 Honda XRV650 Africa Twin by a gray building

Bring a Trailer | 1989 Honda XRV650 Africa Twin RD03

Over 4000 kilometers of tarmac, gravel, and sand are covered in the Dakar Enduro Rally. While the event is accessible to automobiles, there is also a motorbike class at Bespoke Rallies. Bikes, but not just any motorcycles.

This event is technically open to any adventure bike. The Enduro Rally organizers, however, urge riders to come up on antique or vintage-inspired vehicles in the spirit of the original Dakar Rally, according to RideApart. That includes motorbikes like the first Honda Africa Twin and BMW GS models from the 1980s. Indeed, Evo creator and YouTuber Harry Metcalfe is competing on a 1988 Africa Twin, which he previously rode on a Dakar Rally stage.

How can you become involved?

Despite the fact that prior off-road riding expertise is not needed, Bespoke Rallies encourages prospective riders to acquire the necessary abilities. Participants will also need replacement parts and tools, as well as a Brantz or equivalent trip meter and a skid plate. To participate, however, you just need a regular lone with an international riding permission, not a competition license.

The Dakar Enduro Rally begins on February 28, 2022, with entry fees starting at $8250, according to MCN. Hotel accommodations, meals, GPS trackers, a complete support staff with a medic, and rally gear are all included in the price. Plus, shipping for any ADV you bring with you.

To be sure, the entrance price is not insignificant. However, it is probably one of the safest ways to recreate the first Paris-Dakar routes. Riding a vintage Africa Twin through Africa has a particular allure.

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