I was watching the daily OLN coverage of the Dakar rally (an overland race from Lisbon to Dakar, Senegal). They were covering stage 11, crossing from Mauritania into Mali - out of the dunes and into the savanna.
The announcer said something along the lines that the locals were friendly and interested in the rally, and that it would be "many precious memories" for the habitants of the towns and villages along the route.
I just recently read Michael Palin's Sahara, and he describes the "media circus" that is the Dakar rally passing through town, and watching the race. It certainly didn't seem from his description that the locals cared much (other than the revenue to be gained with so many teams and media in town) about the race, or that the memories would be all that precious.
Has anyone seen any of the Dakar rally while travelling in Western Africa? What did the locals think of it?
If I was living in one of the silent villages up there I would be pleased to see cars driving by with 100 miles an hour and almost running over my entire family.
It must be quite a novelty.
As a regular stage rallying competitor I can see the thrill of the Dakar....but for the locals there is little to interest them as most probably cannot relate to cars being driven like that (and bikes and trucks for that matter)
However, I believe the organisers do put things back into the communities they pass through..
Sadly, there were 3 deaths this year during the Dakar rally. 2 local children were hit by passing vehicles, and one motorcycle participant died.
I'd be interested if anyone has any first hand experience of seeing the Dakar rally pass through.
In memory of the two children that sadly died during the passage of the Dakar caravan in Guinea and Senegal, the Lac Rose special was not timed. The competitor’s joy that dream of this final lap of the Lac Rose was tarnished by the sadness linked to the losses of biker Andy Caldecott, Boubacar Diallo and Mohamed N’Daw.
From Deaths shadow Alphand's Dakar win
Spectator Hussein Ousman, who has watched the rally arrive in Dakar 20 times, said: "It really raises the question of safety.
"These deaths are terrible. We cannot have this. Something must be done about it."
The race has claimed 48 lives since it was first run from Paris to Dakar in 1978, including eight children, 23 competitors and founder Thierry Sabine, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1985.
The final stage around Lac Rose, a scenic salt lake set amid beachside sand dunes north east of Dakar, wasn't timed as a tribute to the latest victims.
Organisers were shocked by the deaths but made it clear the race would be run in 2007.
In many ways it seems perverted to think about the galactic amounts of gas beeing speend by rich engine-fanatics, when you know how important the gas (and particularly the lack of it) is to the economic and social infrastructure in the raced countries. The organization behind the PD-Rally and the sponsors could easily afford using more money for building the passing-through areas. Please!