Where will you be sleeping tonight?

Where do the Dakar Rally’s competitors, mechanics and followers spend at night? In a hotel, a tent, a campervan, a motorhome or under the night sky?

For the last three or four years, the leading protagonists have tended to sleep in campervans within the bivouac.

At Peugeot-Total, there are four campervans: one for Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, another for Cyril Despres and Stéphane Peterhansel, a third for their respective co-drivers David Castera and Jean-Paul Cottret, and the final one for Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.

Mini X-Raid’s Mikko Hirvonen and his wife Linda have their own campervan, with the latter driving the vehicle from one bivouac to the next. Some drivers prefer to sleep in hotels, while their co-drivers make do with converted cabins inside the workshop trucks. Chile’s Boris Garafulic is the owner of one of the most impressive motorhomes in the paddock an American model complete with a chimney!

Most of engineers and mechanics sleep in tents, either on the ground or else on truck roofs. Journalists similarly choose to bed down under canvas, in their case behind the Media Centre. Likewise, BFGoodrich’s tyre-fitters erect their Quechua tents next to the workshop truck.

Purists, by contrast, plump for just a camp bed and duvet, including some of the marshals from the organisational hub, who have slept underneath the stars for years on the Dakar and take refuge in the canteen when it rains or gets too cold.

A rare and privileged few stay in hotels. This was almost impossible when the event was held in Africa. However, since it moved to South America in 2009, the bivouacs have generally been located either on the outskirts of or within big towns or cities. It goes without saying that reservations need to be made several months in advance...

For the rest day, three-quarters of the Dakar’s followers tend to treat themselves to a night or two in a hotel, to recharge their batteries and wash and dry their clothes ahead of the second week, which begins this year with a marathon leg when they have no choice. They will all sleep on camp beds, inside a converted dormitory at Uyuni’s military barracks.

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