Imagine being so fed up with a slow-moving competitor that you kick them off their ride and move it out of the way. I wish I could do this with left-lane campers on the highway daily.
The Dakar Rally just wrapped up, and I've been binge-watching highlight reels this weekend. One particularly memorable clip is this moment from Stage 11—a car's stuck behind a slow-moving motorcycle, and the navigator gets out and essentially steals a competitor's bike to help get him over a hairy section of rocks.
It's about the 02:12 mark in this 30-minute video:
I call this "when road rage and sportsmanship looked like the same thing" because, well, we're seeing frustration and compassion in one moment. I bet the conversation inside the car went something like "get this turtle out of the way" with more swearing, and you can tell by the navigator's body language he's in a high-tension mood (of course—that's racing).
That navigator was Loïc Minaudier—a very accomplished motorcycle racer himself with multiple Dakar finishes on two wheels. He and driver Matthieu Serradori went on to finish 10th out of 129 finishers in the car class this year.
Meanwhile, the biker, Oran O'Kelly, took it in stride—throwing up the pray-hands "thank you" as he saunters up to his motorcycle and catches his breath. And no clowning on him is intended by me here! The dude had been off-road racing for over a week at this point; "exhausted" would be an understatement for anyone.
Even better: O’Kelly ultimately finished the race, in 58th position out of 103 bikes. And that's not counting a long list of DNFs.
It's pretty incredible that a camera was able to capture this. When a race has hundreds of competitors in a huge range of disparate vehicles over a course that spans pretty much an entire desert nation, you've got to have pretty good luck to capture these special moments. Who knows how many life-changing interactions and instances took place between racers and the desert throughout the race that were never seen.
And while we're acknowledging just how much of a challenge this is to motorcyclists, I'd be remiss not to recognize the extreme stakes of the Dakar as they made themselves lethally apparent this year. Spanish motorcycle racer Carles Falcon has tragically died from injuries sustained in Stage 2. My thoughts are with his family and friends. His team has posted an obituary you can find here. Rest in peace, Mr. Falcon.
I know it's tough to rip between tones and emotions, but, that's what rally raid racing is. The Dakar Rally is still as intense as motorsports gets.