The annual Dakar off-road rally race takes off.
A cross-country rally, only allowing vehicles designed to cover harsh and hazardous off-road terrains, the Dakar Rally is considered to be the toughest race in the world.
Organized by the Amaury Sport Organization since 1978, the traditional race course would start off in Paris and finish in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. The finishing-point hence lending to the rally's name. However, due to security threats leading to the cancellation of the 2008 edition, the race has since moved to South America.
The three competitive groups are the motorcycle (moto) class, the car class (ranging from buggies to small SUV's) and the truck class.
The Dakar rally is largely criticized for its high number of accidents and casualties. Around 60 people, of whom around half were competitors, have died since the annual race began. Additionally, criticisms are often voiced regarding the unfavourable environmental and social impact of the race in those regions in which it takes place.
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