When you say "everyone
I've talked to...", does this include the obvious - the Dos Sertoes Rally organisers? I'd think they would be a very good "everyone" to start with
. A good start would be to review the reg's from one of the past events, as the reg's don't change too much from year to year, and they can probably provide that if you can't simply download it from their website yourself. It'll give you a very good idea of most of the questions you have. Finishing a rally will take a lot more dogged determination than you seem to be showing so far
. There's also downloading reg's from other similar events like the Desert Challenge that uses the same nav gear. Also try checking the web site of ERTF and TDCOM for details of the equipment they sell and rent for rallys. That'll give you an idea of the costs of the compulsory gear.
I have done a few threads on the builds of a couple of rally bikes (640Adventure for 2008 Aus Safari, 530EXC for Safari and Desert Challenge - including all the nav gear for FIM WCCR Championships). Have you checked those out? (I could be an "everyone"
). I started on a tight budget when building the 640 (albeit the Safari doesn't require all the GPS, Sentinel and Balise like the FIM rallys) so most of the mod's were homegrown or stuff bought second hand. The budget grew for the 530 because I realised the wisdom of sometimes you spend more to save money. I'll argue that I'm still on a very tight budget but buying a factory rally bike (KTM 450RFR) makes the best economic sense - once again spending big to save money in the long run
As for the tight budget, the people with "deep pockets" are extremely rare - everyone is doing it on a budget and as cheap as possible. It's just that "as cheap as possible" is still pretty pricey, and rally riders appreciate that sometimes spending less is more expensive. I've done a few rallys and almost everyone stays in tents (generally that's what the organisers offer as part of the entry), ships their bikes (unless they really have to airfreight for other reasons - I airfreighted one direction but seafreight home to minimise costs), takes minimum people (or gets them to pay their own way) and does their own servicing or hooks up with a service package from a team (once again can actually be cheaper). Some might option in one or two extra's for specific reasons, but always watching the budget.
The other issue for you is being USA based makes it difficult for people to help, as very, very few Americans have done this type of rallying. Spread your enquiries further afield (as you're doing with this thread
) and make them less "goegraphic". Find out yourself through shipping agents for freight costs and arrangements - just like I had to and everyone else does. It's too specific to where you are and the size and weight of your bike crate/spares/etc.
One last word - The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a very easy event to do logistically, because the bivouac is at the same place every night. This makes the service packages very affordable and the race very easy to get to. This is somewhat offset by the difficulty of the actual riding, but it's called the Desert "Challenge" for a reason! I've been to it twice and the cost is very similar to doing the Safari and the Safari is in my backyard! Worth considering if it fits with your studies.
Best of luck with the hunt for info. Keep us informed as to how you get on. Maybe we'll get a ride report from you one day after your first rally