The Dakar Rally in mind-boggling numbers

Dakar Rally MINI

The Dakar Rally is one of the toughest motorsport events on the planet – but it's not until you look at the hard facts and figures that you realise just how hard.
The event starts in January in Argentina and covers 9,000km across Chile and Bolivia – but even the teams don't know the exact route yet.

MINI ALL4 Racing co-pilot Michel Perin told AOL Cars: "The organisers try to give us as little information as possible, so we have no idea of where we are going, but we do know we now cross Bolivia, which is new for us."

Perin – and three-times winning driver Nani Roma – will be defending their title in the tough race and AOL Cars will be reporting on the event live.

In preparation we've been delving into the detail – and the numbers are rather scary indeed. In 2014 some 431 vehicles lined up on the start line – but after six days of racing fewer than 50 per cent finished.

That's mostly because the terrain is so tough. Drivers experience heat of up to 65 degrees C in the cars as they cross the Atacama Desert while in the Andes it falls to below freezing.

Not only are the extremes tough on the cars and bikes, they're tough on the drivers too. The average racer burns 850 colories an hour – that's one-and-a-half Big Macs in food terms.

In a day they'll burn 5,100 calories, great if you're on the Atkins and fighting the flab, but these guys aren't, they're at peak physical fitness.

That doesn't mean they're lean like F1 drivers though. These guys have a bit of meat on their bones to ensure they can retain some of the much-needed water on the long, tough days. And did you know, no driver under the age of 35 has ever won the event? Roma is 42...

Dakar Rally
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The Dakar Rally in mind-boggling numbers

Their bodies use 75 per cent of its energy just to keep cool. That's a lot of calories spent on sweating. Talking of which they could fill up 65-litre bottles with the under arm stuff... The less said about that the better.

The competitors know they can pay the ultimate price for competing in this event too. In total, a shocking 27 people have died while taking part in the Dakar Rally...

MINI is one of many manufacturers entering the 2015 event – and will be fielding 10 cars. The firm has an enviable reputation when it comes to finishing – at this year's rally all its teams crossed the line, and Roma took first place.

Although the Dakar Rally hasn't got quite the following here as it has around the world, interest is growing. It's already watched in 190 countries and so far the race, now held in South America as opposed to its previous home in Africa, has attracted five million spectators. Impressive stuff.

Co-driver Perin is under no illusions as to just how hard the rally will be. He told AOL Cars: "In Bolivia we will never drop below 3,600m altitude, and we'll be going up to 4,500m – and this is for two days. This will be hurting all of the competitors. We try to be prepared for this, but it is hard."

AOL Cars will be reporting live from the Dakar Rally in January, and you could be there with us too. Follow this link to find out how.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Chaplin
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