Dakar 2023 | It all started with the exchange of half a dozen messages with my friend João Roque, Nomad_on2wheels, who launched an idea of ​​going to follow the Dakar. At first I thought it was a bold idea and after a short while the great journey through the desert sands began, always under the Dakar motto “Dream.dare.live it” starting from the capital, Riyadh, I think it was already on the seventh stage. We started with language and communication difficulties as soon as we landed at the airport, where the car rental was keeping on changing the reserved 4×4 vehicle to a normal basic car, which then limited us from the start to accessing more rugged terrain and dunes. Accompanying the stages itself would have to be almost imagined through the maps provided by the Dakar application and we would have to more or less know the starting point and arrivals as well as the location of the Biouvac’s. We got many of the locations and information through some of the assistance trucks staff that we became friends with as well as some of the family members of the runners / Drivers that we met along the way, in hotels or restaurants. Following the Dakar is not exactly like following Moto GP or Formula 1 where a person buys a ticket, arrives at the track, watches the race and then leaves. No, here we had to manage to cover hundreds of kilometers day after day to chase the team and sometimes the helicopters which made the adventure more exciting with classic exits like “Follow the Helicopter!” “Follow the Prototype!” “Follow Super Mario!” “Follow Toby Price!” and that’s exactly what happened in the 12th stage where we escorted Mário Patrão always with the Portuguese flag fluttering through the window of the “Dakar Team” car where only euphoria vibrated and the same happened at the end of the 11th stage when we passed the prototype of the Ricardo Porem on the way to the Biouvac and we gave him strength for the victory achieved that same day! Each dawn was the time to plan for the start of the next stage and after a cup of coffee it even seemed that we were nervous about going running with the rest! It was morning madness! At the beginnings as well as at the end of the stages we had the possibility to be in the middle of all the runners where I had the opportunity to meet them live and in color, the whole winning team, namely Kevin Benavides, Toby Price and Skyler Howes which for It was something unthinkable for me one day to be with them there in the middle of nowhere and at the same time overwhelming to be in the middle of so many competition motorcycles in a tremendous symphony even at dawn, ready to rip the vast desert. Since we had the adrenaline to cover distances, we decided to extend the journey for a few more hundreds of kilometers and make a triad through the Kingdoms of the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia, the peninsula of Qatar and the island of Bahrain. Finally, I can say that this Dakar 2023 adventure was one of the best experiences I’ve had in recent times and a dream come true! Top Class! I leave here some photographic record of this adventure… #dakarrally2023 #DakarInSaudi #dreamdareliveit #MakeLifeARide

João Luís Sousa