Posted by Matthew Mac Partlin on Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 is off to a motorsporting start with the Dakar Rally. The world's self-proclaimed most dangerous motorsport event takes its name from the original Paris (France) to Dakar (Senegal) route. The only other event that has such a publicly fearsome reputation is the Isle of Man TT, which annually kills riders and not infrequently spectators.

The Dakar was life-threatening enough negotiating rocks, trees, sand dunes, lions and the heat, but in 2008 the event was moved to South America after terrorist activity along the route made the level of danger simply unacceptable.

The South American trek starts in Argentina and crosses into Chile. Previously it has looped back to Argentina from here, but this year it will continue on up to Peru. A week into the marathon endurance off-road event and there have already been three deaths. On the opening day a local Argentinian bike rider died when he crashed and subsequently had a "heart attack" (You'd have to be suspecting a myocardial contusion, evolving tension pneumothorax/haemothorax or great vessel injury) during aeromedical transport. On that same day a father and son were killed when their ultra-light crashed while they followed the course of the event.

The Dakar finishes on January 15th.