The Rookie & The Racer: The Story of Rebellion Racing at Dakar 2021, Pt.1. “It’s a human adventure, it’s a mechanical adventure, you go as far as you can… dance with the dunes, surf the waves.”
For the 2021 edition of the Dakar Rally, we packed our camera kits and joined our friends at Rebellion Racing to witness the triumphs and tribulations of competing firsthand, and to capture and share with you the unique atmosphere of competing at the top level in one of the wildest places on the planet.
Equipped with a pair of rear-wheel drive, Peugeot-derived Rebellion DXX buggies powered by 400-hp naturally aspirated Ford V8s, the efforts at the wheel were helmed by pedigreed professional and two-time overall Le Mans winner, Romain Dumas, and Rebellion team principal, Alex Pesci, a self-proclaimed novice who began his rallying career just last year (putting his mouth where his money is and making his debut at none other than the 2020 Dakar).
The first of our three-part Dakar 2021 story follows Pesci’s experience, charting his triumphs and tribulations against the dizzyingly beautiful backdrop of the Saudi Arabian landscape. Next week’s installment will feature Dumas’ Dakar drive, which will be followed by our coverage of the first-ever Dakar Classic.
No matter who is competing, no matter in or on top of what, this rally is one without peers, to the extent that Dakar “Rally” is almost a misnomer. It is a test of endurance and willpower that routinely chews up and spits out even the most talented drivers, riders, and navigators; this is not a challenge that caters in the slightest to motorsport tourists, and to even attempt the nearly two-week, 5,000-mile-long journey through Saudi Arabia’s most antagonistic—and breathtaking—terrain is a major feat unto itself.
The route is a grueling one, with cruel turns of fate littering the way, but the rewards outweigh the costs, even if you don’t win—or finish, for that matter. The endless undulating dunes, psychedelic skies, and rock formations torn from sci-fi storyboards make up an incomparably surreal setting for a rally raid.
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