January 6th 2018 in Lima, Peru marks the start of the 2018 Dakar Rally. 14 Stages, almost 9,000km traversing 3 countries (Peru, Bolivia and Argentine) and some of the harshest and highest terrain of any competitive motorsport await the riders.
This is the 10th edition of the race in South America since moving from North Africa due to security concerns and will be as hotly contested by the major factory teams and privateers as always.
Last years winner Sam Sunderland riding for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team is amongst the favourites as are his team-mates 2017 runner-up Matthias Walkner and 2016 Dakar champion Toby Price returning to the Dakar after crashing out last year and breaking his leg.
Third place in 2017 went to Gerard Farres Guell - Himoinsa Racing Team (also on a KTM) will be looking to better his performance this year and with over a decade of Dakar experience he can't be ruled out as a podium contender.
Adrien Van Beveren - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team - finished 4th in 2017 and 6th in 2016. A topn ten finish this year look likely for the Frenchman as he edges closer to the win.
Always up there in the top ten Joan Barreda Borst and Paulo Goncalves of the Monster Energy Honda Team finished 5th and 6th last year and have both been very strong in the FIM Cross Country Rallies over the past year along with team-mate Kevin Benavides.
Pablo Quintanilla of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team won the 2017 FIM Cross Country Rally Championship and will no doubt be motivated by that win to claim the Dakar crown this month.
With so many top riders and teams and an intensity of racing not seen in any other competition the Dakar is almost impossible to predict.
But it is not all big teams, fully supported racing and all the trimmings that is on display.
Each year there are a number of privateer racers, some with no support entering and challenging themselves to complete the Dakar. Getting to the end is an achievement in itself, putting in a competitive performance is absolutely outstanding.
Amongst the privateers is Lyndon Poskitt from Harrogate riding a KTM 450 Rally. 2018 will be his third appearance at the Dakar having finished 46th in 2013 and 39th in 2017. To see what the Dakar Rally drags our of a rider watch his video below.
"You find a different part of yourself doing stuff like this, I love it. There's no getting away from the fact that the Dakar is everything for me, and it's had a special place inside me since 2013. I think people following the race deserve to see more of it, so this time the plan is to do a daily feed and put videos out every day on YouTube. It's going to be stressful and require a lot of input from me, but we'll give it our best shot and I'm super confident we can pull it off. Getting to the end last time was an even bigger dream than finishing in 2013, and it really hit home how hard it is to do Malle Moto. I've learned a lot about how to be more prepared for it, so hopefully I can do a better job this time. The priority is to get to the finish line!" Lyndon Poskitt
There's going to some great racing across Peru, Bolivia and into Argentina over the coming weeks. There will be high's and low's, not all of the rider will reach the chequered flag, some will be victim of technical failures and some may be injured along the way but we pray for a safe race for everyone.
So, whilst your keeping track of your favorite team and riders also remember these guys and others like them and the effort they have to make just to be there.