Budapest-Bamako 2015: World’s Biggest Amateur Rally Defies Terror And Ebola
Ferenc Sullivan 2015.01.14.
Drivers taking part in the tenth Budapest-Bamako rally will begin their epic voyage tomorrow in a bid to defy threats such as terror and ebola to reach the Malian capital. This year, 480 vehicles are embarking upon the challenge, organised in three categories: race, 4 x 4 adventrure and touring. The caravan, which will pass through seven countries before reaching its destination, will begin its journey on Friday, 15 January 2014 in front of the Lurdy House shopping centre and office block in Budapest.
Chief organiser and founder András Szabó Gál explained at a Wednesday press conference that despite initial scepticism, Budapest-Bamako is now internationally considered the world’s biggest amateur rally event. He said that 480 out of this year’s initial 600 nominees will take up the challenge, including 102 cars, 24 motorbikes and three lorries representing fourty-two countries.
He said that although many contestants backtracked this year due to the terror threat and the ebola epidemic, generally over family members’ concerns. “The good news is that Mali is ebola-free, but we are aware that the illness can spread over the border from neighbouring Guinea at any time”, the organiser said, adding that they have emergency plans ready if an epidemic breaks out in the coming days. “With regard to the threar of terror, we are in close cooperation with both Mauritanian and Malian inland security bodies and armies”, he pointed out.
Similarly to earlier years, the route will take two weeks to complete and begins with a three-day, 3100-kilometre “supermaraton”. The journey will take the drivers from Budapest through Slovenia to the Italian port of Genova. Here, the caravan will take a ferry to Africa, pass through the Atlas Mountains and the northern edge of the Sahara in Morocco, continuing through Western Sahara, Mauritania and finally Mali. The race is also a major charity event, with drivers taking with them HUF 1-1.5 million each in aid to Africa.