The price of a dream How expensive is it to enroll in the Dakar? From the amateur rider to the manufacturer's team in it to win, the budget to be invested can be very different. We took a closer look... On the Dakar, the bivouac is a...
The price of a dream
How expensive is it to enroll in the Dakar? From the amateur rider to the manufacturer's team in it to win, the budget to be invested can be very different. We took a closer look...
On the Dakar, the bivouac is a snapshot of the world of motorsport fans. But beyond what brings them all together here, the drivers and riders registered for the rally raid come from so many different countries and so many professional backgrounds - from the Paris firefighter to the pro driver through to large corporation managers. Of course, each one is here with their ambitions, their preferences and - more importantly - their budget. But to access the Dakar family, anyone has to be able to gather a pretty important sum of money as a start-up capital. It is in the bike category that the Dakar challenge is at its "cheapest". For a rider who entends to experience the Dakar "rough", who does his own mechanical repairs, the minimum budget needed is 25,000 to 30,000 euros with a second-hand bike. Gilles Gelebart, who is sharing the adventure with his cousin Serge and their childhood friend, Serge Priser - the Bretons of the desert - have chosen a "slightly" more expensive formula! "Our budget is 110,000 euros for the three of us; but we also brought along a car with a mechanic, which is an additional 19,000 euros. We also chose to use the bikes we raced in the Transoriental last year but it will be there last rally raid of this length - price of a new bike is 16,000 euros." For them, the budget was gathered thanks to the many stickers they have on their bike's bodies and that represent as many generous friends as possible: "our sponsors chipped in from 350 euros to 20,000 euros", explains Gilles.
When one decides to move up to the car category, it is absolutely necessary to foresee multiplying costs, even if one tries to keep a tight budget. Frederic and Christine Favre, who sell 4-wheel drive cars in their everyday lives, finished the 2009 edition ranking 32nd and offered their two sons to join in the adventure this year and be their assistance. This addition made them pause and think for a while: "This year, the budget is at 100,000 €, because I know the business and did most of it myself. In total, taking our kids was an additional 25,000 € and it is also the amount we would have spent if we had purchased a new car. At any rate, this was a great gift to ourselves", explains Frederic, who also sees some kind of investment in it: "as it worked pretty well for us last year, we have had many more clients. For their car's prep, they tend to trust someone who is not doing a bad job at all on the Dakar."
A little further up the standings, a potential winner must expect to spend 30, 40 or even 50 times more than the Favre. It is a whole other league! In such instances, it is generally a squad funded by a car manufacturer that will cover the initial investment. If Volkswagen prefers not to lift the veil on the budget it has invested in its rally raid team, the figure of 25 million euros per year makes team manager and former racer Kris Nissen react: "It is much less than that. Actually the investment was very high when we got into rally raid for the first time and when the cars had to be designed and built. But for at least the last three years, the budget has been dropping by 20 to 25%. And what is more interesting is that - now - the event brings in 8 to 10 times what the group is spending for the team in profits." Here too... we are a long, long way ahead of the Bretons of the desert or the Favre family!