22 Dec 2011
The 2011 Dakar Rally wasn't just the wildest, most extreme endurance automobile race of the year - it was also the "greenest" in the event's history, with solar powered electricity, recycling and biodegradable tableware.
The upcoming Dakar Rally returns to Chile, Peru and Argentina next month, and its environmental commitment is even stronger this year, aided by the support of local environmental authorities.
Commitment to the environment
Competitors sign an environmental charter before taking part in the race - an event that organizers say is "driven by a collective passion for wide open spaces and exceptional natural sites."
The motley crew of motorcycles, trucks, buggies and cars must meet the environmental standards of government authorities and a newly-instituted set of Rally-wide guidelines.
The Rally will continue its tradition of off-setting its carbon footprint by supporting the Madre de Dios project, which fights against the deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. About US $40,000 will be contributed to Madre de Dios through competitors' registration fees, and the organizers donate another US$ 200,000.
The 2012 race marks the first entry of an electric battery-powered race car, designed and built by Team Latvia. Organizers encourage vehicles to use renewable energy, and the competition includes a special category for alternative energy vehicles.
Even the racecourse itself is designed with an eye to the environment, with special attention paid to the delicate ecosystem and cultural heritage of northern Chile's Atacama Desert. The Atacama is the world's driest desert, home to some of humankind's best preserved mummies as well as the site of the rare and beautiful natural phenomenon known as "the flowering desert."
In Chile, race organizers met with the Council of National Monuments, the Ministry of the Environment, the National Forestry Corporation and the National Corporation for Indigenous Development.