The famous and notorious Paris-Dakar is known for its very long and tough rally, with motorcycle riders taking the brunt of its toughness. Accidents, even many fatalities, exhaustion and bandits/terrorists have been plaguing the race since its inception.
Gilles Martineau, later assisted by René Metge, planned for two years to produce a real adventure race: a rally from St. Petersburg, Russia to Beijing, China. A race covering 10,000 kilometers in 17 days. Bad roads, deserts, mountains and the steppes, every element you could want to make a true rally race. The race was held between 12 and 28 June.
In order to make the race more accessible to everyone, they created different categories, from the expert professional ones (Marathon Raid), to the Discovery Raid (read tourist route). The race even allows you to team up with other riders. On the motorcycle side, 3 riders can relay each other.
This race in particular was deemed to be tough on all participants. The rules & regulations even state that in case of physical or emotional failure of one of the riders, another can take his/her place.
Since the race is endorsed and sanctioned by the International Motorcycle Federation (FIM), you need to valid FIM license to enter the race.
It’s not the first time organizers tried to race from the West to the East. Already back in 1907, five cars set off to race Paris to Beijing (or Peking as it was named then), with only 3 cars making it to the finish.
91 motorcycles were registered to start the race in Russia in the toughest class (Marathon Raid class, 2 entered in the Regularity Raid class, nobody entered the Discovery Raid class). The majority of the contestants riding KTM s with a sprinkling of Honda, Yamaha and even one BMW (Simon Pavey – from the Race to Dakar TV series fame). Many riders were old Dakar-hands.
A total of 38 riders made it to the finish, that almost 1/3!! As is the case with the Dakar races, the Transorientale was murderous. One biker lost his life; Frenchman Philippe Tonin, a Dakar hand. The day before, a Chinese truck driver, Xu Lang, who had stopped to help someone, got hit by the towing cable, and died the following day.
The terrain the bikers had to ride through were literally out of the world. All the elements of the Dakar were present. If you think the Dakar sand dunes are high, try the Chinese, they are world’s tallest dunes.
Riding through camel grass in the Dakar is tough? Try the steppes in Kazakhstan and China.
Comparing again to the Dakar, the financial aspect of this race is lighter than the Dakar. You can expect a budget of €75,000 (US$118,000) for the Dakar, while the Transorientale will cost you around €20,000 (US$32,000). For the more “easier” going Raid, expect to pay €17,000 (US$36,000).
If you’re interested in participating in next year’s event, they have opened registrations already on their site. You know what you up against.