Rally raids are probably the most gruelling form of motorsport, tougher even than the 24 Hour race at Le Mans.
They are unique in that different classes of vehicle, namely motorcycles, specially designed off-road cars and trucks, race over the same course – though they are divided into separate categories.
During the raid, which typically lasts several days (and in some cases over two weeks), drivers and riders have to negotiate a number of long off-road stages through seriously inhospitable places like deserts (like in this excellent image by Neil Rickards).
When you consider the distances they cover, their remote locations, lengthy duration, rough terrain, and hot climates you realize what an incredible feat of endurance they are for both drivers and vehicles. The levels of technical and sporting excellence are immense.
The most famous and prestigious rally raid is undoubtedly the Dakar Rally, though a handful of other events can muster a field of competitors similar in pedigree.
Now in its third year, the Turkish Transanatolia Rally Raid is striving for recognition on the rally raid global stage. The weeklong, 2,500 km rally departs on Tuesday (September 4) from Antalya. Local and international competitors piloting rally bikes, off-road vehicles, buggies and quad bikes will then traverse the Taurus Mountains, descend into Cappadocia, before arriving at the finish line in the beach resort city of Alanya on September 11.
Organisers are hopeful the event will go beyond sport and bring a positive impact on the relatively untouched Anatolia region of Turkey. Their aim is to draw attention to the area and provide a much-needed boost to the Anatolian culture, which they describe as fading.
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