Riding skills are not enough to survive the Dakar Rally. Navigation is the key: The only way to find your way out of the desert is contained in a roll of paper full of notes, arrows, and stylized drawings.
Back in the old days, a compass and geographic maps were the faithful allies of every rally rider. GPS changed the face of the toughest rally in the world, and the roadbook became their bible.
“It all started with the introduction of the GPS,” Monster Energy Honda general manager Ruben Faria says. “With the evolution of technology and increasing complexity of the roadbooks, the map man became a key figure.”
Map Man: Beloved by the riders, hated by the race organizers, the “map man” is one of the most discussed players of the modern Dakar Rally. In the wise hands of an expert, a 12-meter road book full of notes can become a “helicopter” ride over a special stage, a three-dimensional photograph that shows, kilometre after kilometre, the pitfalls competitors will tackle the following day.