Global sports is adding a new dimension as the legendary Paris to Dakar all-terrain road rally races to South America with an all new 2014 program rebranded simply “Dakar.” This premiere world championship series has fused the passion of motorsports fans with the passion of endurance sports fans to build a huge global audience. The geographic extension to South America has also recruited more regional competitors and sponsors, helping Dakar make major gains as a global brand. Worldwide webcasting is reaching this large global audience with riveting, adrenaline pumping race scenes and a backdrop of rugged scenery.
The all new Dakar 2014 race began this Sunday, January 5, in Rosario, Argentina. Its three nation course will traverse the rugged Andes mountain range in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The athletes include over forty drivers each in both motorcycle and four wheel cars. To the surprise of many viewers, a dozen drivers are piloting Austin Minis, vehicles that are most popular in congested large cities and not often seen crossing the Andes or fording rivers in tropical rain forests. The innovative new itinerary is giving both the drivers and the Austin Mini a good chance to show their strengths. As of the end of competition on the fifth day of the race, a Mini driver was in first place.
This week’s course is also crossing the Argentine province of Mendoza, South America’s leading wine producing region. Cinzano has seized upon this opportunity to craft a sponsorship targeting the motorsports and endurance sports audiences. The well known wine is an individual sponsor of driver Lucio Alvarez. Unlike many sports events, the Dakar Rally allows sponsors of individual athletes to promote the sports event in its own advertising and promotions. For this year’s expansion of the franchise to South America, it has proved to be a successful way to increase the size of the audience.
The large audience for Dakar 2014 is giving Argentina a good chance to spotlight its attractions for sports travelers. The region around Mendoza has many attractions for sports travel and an introduction to “lite” versions of extreme sports for those who are adventurous but not that experienced. There are a dozen operators of rafting trips on the Mendoza River. This river has a series of whitewater challenges, but has a moderate grade and currents that are easy to master because the water rises up from underground streams in a semi-arid desert that rarely has storms. There are also several zipline adventure operators who can get visitors an aerial view of the local canyons. The area also attracts skiers from June to September, the local winter season.
The region’s marathon is like no other. It is named for the local volcano, Aconcagua, which rises 22,841 feet above sea level. The course will combine running with a steep climb for the ultimate test of endurance. It will also provide an intriguing opportunity for sponsors who want the attention of the endurance sports market in South America. The 2014 marathon will take place November 29.