I watch the Dakar Rally every year. It may even be a clean sport – something I am coming back to about Essendon.
It began as a rally from Paris to Dakar but swapped to South America about ten years ago. The scenery is stunning – more stunning than on the Tour. But what is required of the drivers of cars or riders of bikes tests belief. You might have to do more than 500 k’s in a day off road in the High Andes or on the Atacama Desert and where you have to repair your own vehicle between stops and where the navigation challenge is such that people get lost. People had to retire this year from heat (47 degrees) or altitude sickness. It takes experience, skill, patience, endurance, courage and luck. You just have to be tough. It is by far the most daunting sport I have ever watched – and I think some actually take part in it as a sport. It is far and away my best TV event. It is much, much more testing than the WRC rallies
I remember doing a note a year or two ago about an Australian guy’s skill and courage. He survived a fall in which he broke his neck. I recall he had to make a big call about chancing his luck on getting a flight home to get the right surgeon. There are two differences from the cars. There is no protective shell, and you have to do your own navigating. If you hit the wrong brinnie at 150ks, that might be it.
Well, the surgery worked, and this morning our timeToby Price became the first Australian winner of the Dakar. It is a mighty, mighty achievement. If I had to compare it, which I should not, I would think it was at least worth a Major or Grand Slam.
Well, Toby, you may not get the reception that our Michelle got – and bloody well deserved – but you are a true bloody hero. And God knows we could use one! Tina Turner was wrong.
More on the Bombers and Lindy shortly. It is a lot worse than I had thought, and the prevailing ignorance and spleen is revolting.