Want to try rally racing, but think it’s insanely expensive? Not necessarily. Sure, the Dakar costs are astronomical, and some of the bigger rallies the Africa Eco Race will cost you quite a lot. However, if you just want to try a smaller rally, or one that has an adventure or amateur class, like the Hellas Rally Raid in Greece, it’s much more achievable.
So, what are the rally costs, and what does a racing budget look like?
With bigger rallies, entry fees are a big chunk of the expenses, but Hellas Rally, Albania Rally, and plenty of other multi-day rallies charge as little as 6-700 euros for your entry fee. Normally, this would be for the adventure or Lite class, whereas the main rally entry fee would be 7-800 euros, but this is still less than the typical 3,000+ entry fee for the big desert rallies. The key to save on entry fees is register as soon as possible – late entries typically cost more, so plan ahead.
You will need racing insurance to participate in a rally, which is different from your regular travel insurance. Usually, rally organizers offer racing insurance on the spot. I paid 120 euros at Hellas for mine. If you have a racing license, you may already have a basic racing insurance included, but you’ll have to check that. Some travel insurance providers may include motor sports/racing insurance, but call your provider to double-check. You will not be allowed to race if you don’t have the insurance.
This is not necessarily applicable to all rallies, but some may charge a GPS tracker fee which is around 50 euros. You do not get this fee back after you hand the GPS tracker device back to the organizers. This fee covers a GPS tracker you will be given before the race. The GPS trackers let rally organizers see where you are in real time and you can send them an SOS signal if you go down hard and need assistance.
If you can afford to buy a rally bike, by all means, go ahead; the costs will vary depending on what you buy. I did the rally on the bike I currently own, my Suzuki DR650. Was it the ideal choice? Not really, but this is the bike I had, and to be honest, I’m quite happy with my choice despite coming in last! Lots of rallies have an adventure raid class, which means you can race on your ADV bike.
If you want to rent a motorcycle for the rally, a KTM450 EXC complete with a 15-liter tank and a roadbook navigation tower for the whole rally will cost you around 2,600 euro. This usually includes basic technical support throughout the rally.
If you’re racing on your own bike, you can either ship the bike to the rally location, or ride it there yourself. I rode my bike from Poland to Greece to get to Hellas because – well, why not? But if I’d chosen to truck it there, it would have cost around 500 euros.
There are several options for rally support costing from 0 to 1,200 euros and up. If you’re going malle moto, that is, service your bike yourself, you do not need to pay anything. If you want mechanical support during the rally, the price will vary on the package. A basic one including daily maintenance, tire and oil changes, and repairs costs from 650 euros for the whole rally.
You can upgrade the support package adding things like assistance on service points during the race and refueling as well as a personal trainer and/or physiotherapist – this support package will cost 1,200 euros and up. How much you want to spend and what assistance you need is up to you. I did not have support during the rally and frankly, I regret it – I did save money, but having support would have given me some much-needed peace of mind. For my next bigger rally, I’m definitely going to save up for mechanical support just to avoid a huge amount of stress. Running around the bivouac looking for spokes for your weird 17” wheel at 10 pm is no fun, trust me.
You can also pay rally mechanics per job, for example, a tire change or roadbook equipment installation. A tire change will cost around 20 euros, bigger repairs will be more expensive. You can combine doing your own service and paying mechanics per job whenever you need help to save on support costs – this is what I did during Hellas, but again, having support would have saved a lot of nerves, anxiety, and stress.
Spares and Repairs
During the rally, things on your bike will probably break, and you’ll need to budget for spares. Personally, my expenses for my DR650 included:
- Tires and tire change
- Front brake pads/brake pad change
Post-rally, I had to get new spokes, new front sprocket seal, fix broken luggage rack, reconnect turn signals, and rebuild the shock.
Roadbook navigation equipment is pricey, costing 900 euros and up, so renting could be a much cheaper option – especially if it’s your first rally and you’re not yet sure whether you’ll be doing more rallies in the future. Rent prices differ depending on the manufacturer. As an example, to rent a Laba7 roadbook navigation kit for Hellas Rally costs 350 euros. If, after the rally, you feel you want to keep the kit, you can buy it for an additional 545 euros which sounds like a pretty decent deal.
Finally, you’ll need to sleep somewhere during the rally. The most economical option is to camp in the bivouac. Rally bivouac will have shower and toilet facilities and a canteen providing meals (and beers). All you need is your tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag plus some cash for the food.
If you feel you need a hotel room for better rest, the costs will depend on where you are. A basic hotel room in Karpenissi, Greece, near the rally bivouac, cost around 45-55 euros per night.
During the rally, you’ll also spend money on fuel, bike washes, oil, chain cleaner/lube, and so on. Have an emergency budget for unexpected big repairs, a food budget and, if you’re feeling festive, a beer budget. Put some money aside in case you need to ship your bike back, and make sure you have decent medical insurance.
All in all, if you’re riding your own bike and servicing your bike yourself/paying rally mechanics per job, stay in a hotel during the race, and already have a roadbook navigation kit or managed to borrow it from someone, a seven-day rally like Hellas will cost you around 1,500 – 2,000 euros ($1,680-2,230), not including shipping your bike to and from the rally, daily fuel, spare parts, and food expenses.