WINNING HIS TICKET: Ian Blythe has won the Dakar Challenge in Australia and will part in the 2015 Dakar Rally.Image: Twitter / Dakar Rally
For the 13th and final Dakar Challenge event of 2014 American Ian Blythe travelled from the USA to Australia - and won a ticket to race in the Dakar as one of a bakerr's dozen newcomers on which to keep a close eye over the track, sand and mouintains of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
One of them is South African Brian Baragwanath who won the June 2014 Botswana 1000 Desert Race.
Sometimes the future is played out in the present, the official Dakar Rally website reported. Each year a series of Dakar Challenge events has impressive surprises in store from challen ge winners capable of distinguishing themselves on the main event in South America every January.
It may just turn out that the small team of this year's “challengers” could again be capable of springing a surprise.
In any case, this is the impression given in light of the performance by the winner of the final ticket, won on completion of the 3500km Australasian Safari. For those in the know, Ian Blythe was already a biker to watch through the previous several years, having posted the best time among juniors on the Mexico Six Day Enduro (ISDE) in 2010.
Since then the American adventurer from Colorado has honed his riding style around the world, with the certainty of moving on from endurance racing to rally-raids and everything came to fruition in recent weeks. He decided to sign for the Australasian Safari especially to try too win a Dakar ticket. Blythe quickly set himself apart from the pretenders to the Dakar Challenge crown on the quick tracks of Western Australia but still had a fright on the closing two days of the race - no fifth gear!
“It would have been difficult to accept if, over those last two stages, I'd lost the three-hour lead I built,” he said.
For Blythe, a first mission accomplished, Now he has to show he is capable of tackling the main event in a little more than three months.
He said: “I came to Australia with the sole aim of winning my place on the Dakar. Now I'm going on a training camp with Quinn Cody in California because I'm still relatively new to riding in the desert.
"What's more, I need to get used to navigating - events with road-books are rare in North America."
Other winners of Dakar Challenge events in 2014:
Desafio Ruta 40 (Argentina): German Fernandez (Uru - bike) / Giuliano Giordana (Arg - quad) / Lino Sisterna (Arg - car)
Tecate Score Baja 500 (Mexico): Tony Gera (USA - bike) / Mike Johnson (USA - car)
Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race (Botswana): Brian Baragwanath (SA - quad) / Bertholdt (SA - car)
Desafio Guarani (Paraguay): Kevin Echeveste (Arg - bike) / Beto Ramírez (Par - quad) / Rubén Irala (Par - car)
Desafio Inca (Peru): Cristobal Guldman (Chi - bike) / Rodolfo Guillioli (Gua - quad)
Australasian Safari (Australia): Ian Blythe (USA - bike)