Lately I have been hit with the same question from just about everyone I run into, “Who’s going to win Dakar?” My typical answer is, “I have no idea!” That’s not entirely true, I do have some idea, I’m just not willing to come out and say it. Here is why - simply put, the race is wide open this year, there are several favorites but for the first time since the inaugural race back in 1979 there is no defending champion. For the last 10 years Cyril Despres and Marc Coma have owned the Dakar, taking 5 wins apiece. With Cyril moving on to 4-wheels, driving for the heavily funded Peugeot team and Marc taking over as sporting director for the Dakar Organization, the Rally is left with no champion. The current field of riders will no longer have the tracks of these two great navigators to follow when things get complicated. This year we will to find out who truly has real navigation skills and who has been hanging back and following tracks through the tricky sections. Additionally, an exciting new crop of riders will be introduced this year, guys like Antoine Meo, Ivan Cervantes and Pierre Renet; these riders can do things on a motorcycle that Coma and Despres never even dreamed of. All of this adds up to make this year’s Dakar the most exciting race in recent history.