The 24th edition of the Total Paris-Dakar Rally will feature several changes aimed at both keeping costs down and retaining its air of adventure, according to the Thierry Sabine Organization, promoters of the world's most famous rally. The 2002 event begins with technical inspection on December 26, 2001, in Arras, France, near Paris, with the actual race start on the 28th. It will reach its traditional finish in Dakar, Senegal, in western Africa on January 13, 2002.
Among the changes announced at a Dakar press conference in Torrance, California, on June 29, is the introduction of several stages in the race where racers will have to navigate without the use of GPS, as they did when the race first started. Use of the organizer-supplied GPS units will result in a time penalty.
Another change is the inclusion of two "marathon" stages, which will essentially be back-to-back days of racing with minimal mechanical support during the short layover.
There'll be no changes in motorcycle regulations, which will fall into either Production (limited modifications) or Super Production classes. Naturally, there will also be displacement classifications: 250cc, 400cc, Open and Twin-cylinder.
While the exact route has not been revealed, it's not expected to be vastly different than the 2001 route.
Among the speakers at the press conference were the three Americans who competed in 2001 - Johnny Campbell (pictured), Jimmy Lewis and car racer Darren Skilton, who's now heading up the American arm of TSO. Though neither Campbell nor Lewis have confirmed plans to race the 2002 Dakar, both remain hopeful of securing rides in the next few months. In fact, both will be racing in a Spanish Baja event next week and plan to use the opportunity to meet with potential Dakar sponsors.
Those interested in learning more about the event are encouraged to visit the Web site: www.dakar.com. Potential competitors can obtain the informative registration kit from Baja Automotive Adventures, 455 E. Ocean, Suite 208, Long Beach, CA 90802; 562/755-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.