Originally Posted by rallye
Any theories on why the winners of the Dakar are predominently Italian (6) or French (19 wins) ? there are only 4 Nationalities of people to ever win the Dakar ,and all from countries that don't have deserts!!
see below for past winners.
Plenty other nationalities have made it to the podium, but not on top.
Considering there are up to 43 different nationalities entered each year (later years, not so many in the early history of Dakar).
it would be interesting to hear others theories.
I think to simply say that these countries don't have deserts... is too simplistic.
Accona desert, Tuscany region central Italy.
Aragon region - Spain;
Tabernas desert, Almeria region - Spain.
La Garrigue, southern France;
All of these countries (Spain, Italy and France) have semi arid/desert like regions where riders are familiar with the terrain and temperatures that occur in dry desert landscapes.
These three countries all have relatively ease of access to the northern African/Sahara, where the majority of "desert rally" events were born/conducted in the 1980's/1990's
And of course, the promotors/organisers of the events came predominantly from either France or Italy...
The RIDERS as INDIVIDUALS:
If - in an attempt to explain why only these four nationalities have dominated the MOTO podium - we look at the individuals concerned... and the times at which they reigned.
The earliest editions of the Paris-Dakar through the 80's were dominated by three names... Neveu, Auriol and Rahier.* In these first years the event was very much a French curiosity/speciality. Starting in central Paris at new years eve each year, it was (along with Tour de France) quickly adopted as one of the spporting/cultural highlights of the year and as a result french competitors, teams and sponsors supported the event wholeheartedly...as did a vast number of the public.
* Okay... so Rahier is from Belgium, but as a French speaking nation with it's proximity to France, the transition is one not so remarkable.
In the 1980's Cyril Neveu (5), Hubert Auriol (2) and Gaston Rahier (2) were the equivalent of todays "aliens"... they were a step above the others and all won multiple occassions.
1989 won Gilles Lalay (Neveu's french Honda team mate) but unfortunately the following year the Dakar claimed him, and he is remembered as a great rider with one title to his name.
When the 1990's came along - so did a new french "Alien" - Stefan Perfecthansel. His string of domination (six victories) was broken only by the efforts of another great champion - Edi Orioli (Italy) who garnered 4 Dakar titles and enjoyed many battles with Peterhansel.
After Peterhansel's time on the throne came a new french successor - Ricard Sainct (1999/2000 & then 2003) and then the Roman Emperor - Fabrizio Meoni (Italy) - who ushered in another "Dakar empire"... that of KTM*.
I saddens many of us that these two great riders were taken from us, by they sport they loved and excelled at... though that too seems to be a part of the legend.
Since 2001 the KTM "creche" that Kinigadner/Arcarons created in the late 1990's bore fruit... After Meoni's two LC8 victories, and Sainct's double defection back from BMW (2003)... came the single victory for Nani Roma of Spain (2004) and since then the unbroken record of KTM's position atop the podium has been upheld by the Despres (4 wins) and Coma (3 wins) alien alliance.
Now aside from the (sometimes) claimed french parochial nature of the ASO... it cannot be denied that all of these great French*, Italian and Spanish riders have an enourmous amount of desert riding experience, AND they rode for the strongest teams of the day.
Which raises another interesting point;
The FACTORY TEAMS
that they rode for...
In the 1980's... HONDA and BMW were the first to really throw sponsorship (tobacco industry) muscle behind their Dakar efforts... the results reflect this.
In the 1990's both Cagiva and yamaha made very big factory team efforts - with big outside sponsorship budgets (tobacco) and they took home the lions share of the winnings.
In 1990/2000 BMW decided they wanted to come back to DAKAR and WIN in order to promote their new F650 machines... so the did... with tobacco money behind them.
In 2001 KTM decided to kick it into another gear... with the cigarette smoke now dissapating from the revenue possibilites (du to the worldwide trend to ban tobacco sponsorship of sport) and so it came down to another longtime sponsorship avenue (fuel companies) and a refreshingly new source of companies evolved to promote their wares via the DAKAR....
ENERGY DRINK COMPANIES
It's to the point today that nearly every leading team in just about every form of motorsport has either a Monster, a Rockstar, a Red Bull or some form of caffienated sugar reduced concoction associated with their efforts.
Given the fact that both HONDA and Husqvarna, have stepped up the level of their commitment, to rival that of KTM over the last decade the question is; if we are trying to tip a winner for the 2013 DAKAR in the MOTO category, maybe we should factor in these points to consider as well;
Riders Nationality/geographic location:
Riders Nationality/Team ASO contacts:
Riders Rally experience/Alien status:
FACTORY team behind the rider:
SPONSOR behind the factory team:
When you factor in these parameters into the matrix... well statistically it seems about time that a perhaps a latin American name might make it's presence known on the short list of nationalities that have won the Moto category of the DAKAR to date?