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Dakar Rally team attacked by pirates in bizarre incident

For safety reasons, the Dakar Rally no longer runs between Paris and Dakar, but instead in alternative locations. But even in those other venues, it seems it is anything but safe as recently, a Brazilian Dakar team was attacked by pirates.

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Rodrigo Varela, a renowned off-road driver in South America, is taking part in this year's Dakar Rally and is doing so together with friend and navigator Enio Bozzano.

However, the circumstances surrounding their entry could not be any stranger as during the Christmas period, the Can-Am UTV - the vehicle with which Varela and Bozzano will participate in the rally - was transported by ship to Saudi Arabia.

As Varela and his family sat down to Christmas dinner, they received a phone call and were informed that the ship on which the car was being transported had been attacked by Houthi pirates.

The crew managed to shake off the pirates, but an alternate route to the starting point had to be taken, increasing the arrival time by 20 days.

The event hit the debut Dakar duo hard as it seemed that their dream of entering the event had gone up in smoke. However, they went in search of a replacement car and found the same Can-Am machine in Portugal from a driver not participating in the 2024 Dakar Rally.

“We had to make modifications and adaptations in a hurry. Fortunately, it worked and we passed the Dakar inspection,” said Varela, as quoted by Autosport.

The challenges for the Brazilian friends are not over yet, however. The car is there, but spare parts are missing as these are also aboard the attacked ship. Varela therefore hopes fellow rally participants will be willing to lend a helping hand here and there.

“We still don’t have all the parts we will need during the Dakar, which requires a lot of maintenance. To do this, we are counting on the help of other teams.

“The Dakar is a mix of racing and adventure. And this makes solidarity one of its most notable brands. People help each other when they can.”

Despite all the setbacks, Varela and Bozzano successfully started the prologue and the first stage on Friday.

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