The 2005 Dakar will start from Barcelona on January 1st before taking in the Black Africa countires of Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali before the traditional claimx around the Lac Rose at Dakar. “The Dakar has had to close motorcycle entries at the end of the summer, barely two months after they opened and a full four months before the start," explained Etienne Lavigne, Head of organisation. "We should be having nearly 230 motorcyclists starting from Barcelona on 1 January next, which has never happened before on the Dakar. “We set a limit of 200 machines, as in other years, but motorcycle entries have been arriving in bulk. After getting the agreement from the French Motorcycle Federation and checking out the technical and logistics aspects, we decided to increase the number of participants and take some thirty more competitors. "As one of our main concerns was for everybody's safety, we are allocating additional resources: an extra medical helicopter as well as more stewards. But we have nonetheless, with a heavy heart, had to refuse about fifty competitors and close motorcycle entries." As regards cars and trucks, although the limit has not yet been reached, current numbers (90 cars and 38 trucks) are 50% up on last year at the same time! All categories included, 400 started on 1 January last year (195 motorcycles, 142 cars and 63 trucks). How many are there going to be at Barcelona on the starting line in 2005? The official number of entries will be reported at the press conference on 17 November. Nationalities More than 37 nationalities have entered already. An increasingly international Dakar with competitors coming from every continent: the French represent a mere than 31% of the total, ahead of the Spanish (13%), Belgians (11%), Dutch (9%) and Italians (8%). That is 72% how many of the remaining 28% are U.S.A.? The Course After starting from “Plaza de España” in Barcelona, on 1 January and a prologue (counting for the general placings), the competitors head for southern Spain for a stage in Grenada. The following day they compete in the second special in the region before boarding ship for Africa. After crossing Morocco, Mauritania (rest day in Atar), Mali and Senegal, the finish will be judged in Dakar, at Lac Rose, on 16 January. I found out a lot from the net but, I have been to twenty two sites. Most of them dead ends.......this rallies coverage is vauge. A lot of the the info you really have to dig for. Not much is just spelled out, or easy to find. I am sure it is different for an insider like IronDude........ The biggest change is the 450cc twin-cylinder engine size limit for motorcycles, with the single-cylinder limit at 750cc. KTM, no longer able to compete aboard the 950, is hard at work building a 660cc single-cylinder Dakar bike. Another big change in 2005 is limited GPS points, with some stages allowing absolutely no GPS navigation at all. Riders will be forced to navigate using road books, compasses, and cairns—piles of rocks used by nomadic tribes to mark desert trails. Other changes include a speed limit when passing through African communities, and 45% less assistance trucks to follow competitors http://www.dirtrider.com/news/141_0407_dakar/ In only the second year of the first-ever factory US Dakar team, Red Bull KTM has announced an ambitious three-year plan with the goal of putting an American on the podium. Those who know Dakar can appreciate how ambitious this goal is. Dakar is the world's toughest off-road race spanning 16 days and over 5,000 miles. But KTM is confident that Americans have the most talent and the best off-road machinery; what we don't have is the experience. Jimmy Lewis, one of America's most successful Dakar competitors—and the newest addition to the Dirt Rider team—engineered the Red Bull KTM Rider Search Challenge to select the 2005 team. The challenge is set to take place July 25-29 in California's Death Valley, and is a true-to-life simulation designed to test physical, mental and emotional endurance. The test will be an exercise in road book and GPS navigation and extreme distance coverage, as well as expose the riders to the harsh realities of Dakar such as sleep deprivation, eating nothing but couscous and having their socks stolen in the middle of the night. A panel of judges consisting of Scot Harden, Jimmy Lewis, Danny LaPorte and Malcolm Smith will select two riders and one alternate to form the Red Bull USA Dakar team. The third rider will be Scot Harden, serving also as the manager, mentor and leader for the 2005 team. Sixteen competitors were hand-selected by the panel of experts to compete in the challenge (regardless of their current sponsorships). The nominated riders (with those who have accepted in bold) are: Kurt Caselli Jonah Street Destry Abbott Andy Grider Mouse McCoy Nick Pearson Kellon Walch Casey McCoy Chris Blais Larry Roeseler Kenny Bartram Paul Krause David Pearson Ty Davis Johnny Campbell Scott Summers After the team is selected, the development process will begin with the team participating in the Nevada Rally Experience October 22-24. The NRE, hosted by Best in the Desert and Harden-Offroad, is the first rally event in the US since 1995. The non-competitive event will follow the route of the old Nevada Rally with two 250-mile stages and a stop over at an African-style bivouac. November 24th, the team will participate in the infamous Baja 1000 where they will have a chance to compete alongside Dakar champion Richard Sainct and other top European Rally competitors. This is the first effort in Red Bull KTM's ambitious three-year commitment to bring home the win in the Everest of off-road races. We wish everyone the best of luck. Check back on Dirtrider.com in the coming months for to follow the progress of the 2005 US Dakar team. For more information on the 27th annual Telefonica Dakar Rally, visit www.dakar.com.