2010 Dakar Rally to Add Ethanol Category

By KBB.com Editors on September 25, 2009 8:26 AM

In a nod to the rising importance of alternative fuels in motorsport, organizers of the world's largest rally event have announced plans to add a new Ethanol Category to the competition for 2010. The change came as the result of a request from Brazilian driver Klever Kolberg, who will be the first to drive an ethanol-fueled vehicle in the grueling two-week long event. His Brazilian-built Mitsubishi Pajero Sport will have the backing of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). With 93 percent of all new vehicles sold there capable of running on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two, Brazil has one of the world's highest concentrations of flex-fuels vehicles. Buyers can choose from nearly 70 different models produced by 11 manufacturers. And unlike the U.S., ethanol is readily available across the country.

The first Brazilian to ever contest the Paris-Dakar back in 1988, Kolberg won the "marathon motorcycles" category in 1993 before switching over to driving a specially-prepped Mitsubishi Pajero SUV. He sees the move to renewable fuels as a natural progression for the event. "Professional sport has always been aligned with the business world and sustainability has been at the top of the agenda for quite some time. Today it is easier to get to any part of the world, and the Rally Dakar is proof of that. The question is what fuel will we use, and if we choose clean energy, the world thanks us. I'm receiving a great deal of support from competitors who want the Ethanol Category to be a success."

Originally known as the Paris-Dakar Rally Raid, increasing security risks forced a change in locales from North Africa to South America in 2009 after cancellation of the 2008 event, as well as a change in name. Set to run from January 1-17, next-year's Dakar Rally will be contested through Argentina and Chile and is expected to draw over 500 total entries, although no word yet as to how many will participate in the new Ethanol Category.