We all know that race drivers need to be physically fit to handle the hostile environment of a racecar cockpit, but the physiological demands of the 15-day Dakar Rally are unique.

Aside from the hostile desert environment and the long hours in the car, the physics of rallying is dramatically different from asphalt road racing, for example. Where a road racer trains his body to accept lateral g-forces and braking loads, the Dakar drivers and co-drivers are subjected to extreme vertical impact loads because of the rough terrain, which puts enormous stress on the spine. More after the jump…

Volkswagen?s rally teams undergo periodic and extensive sports-medicine examinations that read like a catalog of high-end diagnostic procedures in addition to the usual fitness assessment: full-body x-rays (looking for accident damage, potential weakness or problems), ultrasound, MRI, ECGs, echo cardiographs, lab tests and pulmonary diagnostics. Physical training programs are custom-tailored for each team member, and for the unique physiological requirements of the Dakar.

During the Dakar Rally, the VW team is supported by its own travelling team of doctors and paramedics.

[Source: Volkswagen]

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