The Dakar Rally may only be achievable for a select few – but, as the world of rally racing grows, more and more rally racing is open to amateurs and beginners. Rally and roadbook navigation training schools are popping up everywhere, and more and more rally organizers are opening courses for amateurs, adventurers, and just about everyone in between. You don’t have to be a professional racer to compete in cross-country rally racing: from North America to Europe and North Africa, rally racing is becoming the next stage of ADV riding rather than an elite sport.
Of course, the elite levels are still very present; Dakar, Africa Eco Race, etc. cost a fortune to participate, and some require qualifications and racing licenses. However, if you’re hoping to try your luck (and your bike) at mid-level rally racing, here’s a list of fan-friendly events around the world with entry prices and bike rental options. :
Baja Rally, Mexico, September 26 – October 2
Not to be confused with Baja 1000 or Baja 500, Rally Bass is a six-day cross-country rally race in Baja California, Mexico. The format is unique because it’s technically a desert race, but most of the stages follow tracks rather than open tracks, and you can race with a traditional roadbook or an Enduro Comp device with direction arrows and audio alerts. Covering 200 miles on average each day, the Baja Rally can be both a fantastic first rally and a serious challenge.
Baja Rally registrations start at $2,295 (Enduro Comp); you can either race your own bike or rent one in Mexico.
Caminos del Colono, Peru, August 26-30
The Dakar Rally has left South America, but South America has not forgotten the rally. This year, Peru will see the first edition of Caminos del Colono, a fan-friendly cross-country rally race that has already attracted names like Carlo Vellutino, Sebastian Cavallero and Gianna Velarde – Peruvian Dakar riders ready for a local challenge. Caminos del Colono is a brand new event but, with a great organizing team and a stunning Andean location, it could become a growing race in Peru.
Entry fees start at $600; motorbike rental is available from the ORGA team.
Hellas Rally, Greece, May 23-30
Europe’s biggest and best-known rally race, Rally Raid Hellas is notable because of its tiered classes and categories. On the one hand, it is challenging enough for pros and semi-pros, but it is also open to beginners and advanced riders as it offers several different classes ranging from the Enduro Cup (70% of the rally route, unit GPS allowed as roadbook backup) at Adventure Raid (GPS only, no roadbook). Seven days of racing in mountainous Greek terrain is no mean feat, but the organization makes it as welcoming as possible for newcomers: in the amateur classes, even if you don’t complete a stage, you are allowed to start the next day (albeit with a big time penalty). Hellas is easily one of the best racing events if you are looking for your first attempt at rallying.
Entry fees start at 700 euros on your own bike; bike hire and assistance available with Hellas partners.
Dinaric Rally, Croatia, August 17-22
Celebrating its second edition this year, Dinaric Rally is a five-day race in the Dinaric Alps with challenging terrain and technical stages. Open to amateurs and pros alike, Dinaric Rally continues to grow and develop, and it’s definitely an event to check out if you’re up for a challenge.
Registration fees start at 600 euros; bike hire available from the ORGA team.
1000 Dunas, October 16-23, Spain – Morocco
Most North African rally races are big events like Merzouga Rally, Africa Eco Race, Rally Touareg, etc. 1000 duna, however, is open to enthusiasts and offers an Adventure Raid class for big adventure bikes. Roadbook and GPS navigation are available depending on class, and while this is serious enough desert racing, the format is designed for pros and amateurs alike.
Registration fees start at 3,200 euros; bike hire available in Spain.
If you’ve never raced a rally before, these events might seem daunting, but in reality what you need for your first rally race isn’t much: a solid bike, basic skills navigation in the roadbook and endurance to cover long distances. pretty much anything (most amateur rally racing does not require racing licenses or qualifications – this is reserved for FIM Championships and FIM Classes). For more information on what you need to get started, see This article; for in-depth tips and advice from veteran rally organizers, see This interview on rally safety, and for more information on North American rally racing, read this interview with Scotty Breauxman.
Have you ever considered doing a rally race? Share your opinion in the comments below!