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Ever Wonder If You Could Race Dakar? Here’s What It Takes.

Two Dakar Rally Privateers share how they made racing Dakar a reality.

Published on 08.25.2015

Approximately how much does it cost total to race the Dakar as a privateer?

Scott Bright: There are several different paths to the Finish Line. Some guys go with the bare minimum, and proceed with a whole lot of hope and no guarantees. I believe that the rider needs to secure some sort of peace of mind that the big things are covered, but also not going overboard on comforts that are not necessary. To achieve this minimal level of security it takes $50,000. To build in comforts and conveniences – more like $100,000 and up. Things like the size of your team effort, support vehicle, comfort when sleeping, spare parts for absolutely anything that could go wrong, and other things can really drive the price up.

Bringing the basics to Dakar
Racing Dakar as a Privateer with a minimal level of security that the basics are covered, costs at least $50,000.

Ned, what portion of your Dakar costs were covered by sponsors?


Ned Suesse: Dakar is really expensive, by any measure (dollars, hours, gallons of sweat, etc). It’s not just the two weeks of racing, it is the year leading up to it with all the days in the saddle not earning money, and so on. I found several keys that helped me. First, I lived as cheap as I could and put together the most inexpensive program for the race that I felt I could trust. Second, the motorcycle industry is full of really passionate people, and Dakar brings that passion even closer to the surface than it already is. So, for motorcycle related parts, gear, clothing, and so on, the industry really stepped forward to help.

But many of the costs of Dakar have nothing to do with motorcycles: travel, shipping, entry fee, and so on. These costs are significant, and this is where individuals stepped forward to help, incredibly generously. I reached out to everyone I knew, explained what I was doing, and asked for help. Companies like Klim, Motonation, and Layer Cake wine all stepped forward to support those who helped me, and I think the realization that I did not view Dakar as a vacation or holiday made people want to be a part of the adventure and challenge.

Scott, has fundraising proven to be more difficult than you expected so far?

Scott Bright: I knew it would be tough to raise enough to get to Dakar. One of the first lessons I learned from Ned was that you need to carry the attitude that you are going no matter what! If you would like to race Dakar and better yet have a shot at finishing, you will never make it if you approach the whole project with a passive attitude. Decide that you are going to go, take the bull by the horns and get it done! Your enthusiasm will generate 80% of the support that you will need to do it. That being said, I’m still working to reach my fundraising goal for Dakar 2016. If anyone is interested in giving their support, they can find out how by going to

What are some ways you can do Dakar the cheapest way possible?

Scott Bright: I have heard of some extremely cheap ways, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Anything from just showing up and demanding to race without paying an entry fee, entering but not having a flight to get from Europe to South America, to raiding trash cans along the way for spare parts to keep running, and well… I don’t want to go there!

If you have the money, what’s the easiest way to race the Dakar?

Scott Bright: There are a handful of companies out there that will supply everything for you and take care of all the details — all you have to do is show up. Rally Management Services out of Northern California is one of those companies, and they do a great job!

How much preparation is required if starting as a “recreational level” rider?

Scott Bright: I think one has to be conscious of the little things that will take a rider out of the event. Something as simple as developing soreness on your butt will cause you to want to quit. Taking care of that ahead of time will increase your chances of finishing. On a competitive and realistic level, you have to show up at the start line each day ready to go. If you just rolled in an hour before your start, you will not be physically able to finish. Getting good rest is imperative. If you need eight hours of sleep and you are only getting six, you will make mistakes that will take you out of the game. It really takes a long-term perspective of priorities to get to the finish of Dakar.

Seating comfort dakar rally
Something as simple as seating discomfort can take you out of a 13-day race like the Dakar Rally. Take care of it ahead of time to increase your chances of finishing.

What racing would you recommend starting with before attempting the Dakar?

Scott Bright: I think most people hesitate at the entry-level cost of getting into Rally. Honestly, it’s not that much. For $500 you can get a roadbook holder and an odometer that will work. Then for $200 you can pick up a five-gallon tank for your bike. That is really it with the exception of committing to at least a four-day event that will test your ability to finish. Rally Management Services offers several Bootcamp weekends in Nevada and California, and Dave Peckham will teach you everything you need to get to the Finish Line in one day. How serious you take it from there determines your ability to go far.

Once you have done a school, then I would recommend any of the Rallies that are held in Baja. Take a week off, load up your camper, your bike and go try it! If you cannot survive the three-day Cortez Rally, or the four-day Baja Rally, or even the five-day Mexican 1000, then you probably aren’t going to finish Dakar. Each of those events are relatively close to the US, and they all have their own characteristics providing a good indication of whether you should start down the Dakar road or not.
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Author: Kyra Sacdalan

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Mario P.
Mario P.
August 26, 2015 6:34 pm

Interesting read. It truly takes a lot of perseverance to keep going in spite of all the obstacles. Hat’s off to anyone that achieves the dream of Dakar!

December 3, 2015 7:31 pm

Thanks for asking the question I have had for decades.
I did wonder if i could make the Dakar
Thanks for a Great insightfull article.
Keep asking those questions!

Dean Henthorn
Dean Henthorn
October 5, 2018 11:54 am

Great story and insights.I think in my next life Dakar is my top priority. Maybe I can still go shoot pics of it in this one though!

scott eppinger
scott eppinger
January 12, 2019 5:47 am

Very good ,, thanks for the perspective !!


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