Easily the most-watched motorsport competition in the world is rally racing and this weekend’s Dakar Rally, the 35th annual premier racing event that spans over 5,500 kilometers across South America, is slated to be watched by more than a billion television viewers in 190 countries.
Two teams are expected to dominate this year, though the rally is so grueling and full of potential surprises that it’s still anyone’s game. Most eyes will be on Robby Gordon’s SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires team as Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch try to continue their dominance of the rally course.
MINI and its racing team X-raid are returning to defend last year’s title win, however, and are bringing their A-game to ward off the stiff competition Gordon promises. 11-time champion Stephane Peterhansel will lead the pack and is, for all participating, the beast to best this year.
Ten other MINI ALL4 Racing cars will be in Dakar this year, comprising 12 team members and eleven driver pairings in what they’re calling “Mission: Title Defense.” Gordon and the other racers this year definitely have their work cut out for them if they want to end MINI’s dominance.
Sunday was Day 1 of the Dakar Rally, beginning in Rosario, Argentina.
Daily highlights are aired on NBC Sports (DIRECTV 220, Dish 159, AT&T U-Verse 1640, Verizon FiOS 590). The race runs through January 18.