Paris - The 39th
Dakar Rally will be raced over nearly 9,000 kilometres from January 2-14 in
Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay and will demand "extreme endurance",
organisers announced on Wednesday.
will set off from the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, with race sporting
director Marc Coma promising "the toughest edition in the history of South
be one week spent on the Bolivian Altiplano, with five stages raced at crushing
altitudes of more than 3,500m (11,480ft), going up to 4,500m.
up in the mountains, you're really tested on a respiratory level," race
director Etienne Lavigne told AFP.
an effort is more complicated. Competitors will experience this discomfort very
often and for long periods."
also be six special stages of more than 400km, dune crossing and driving in
sand, especially on the sections of the route still unknown to rally-raid
regulars or during the all-important "Super Belen" stage, three days
from the finish line in Buenos Aires.
a very physical course for the competitors, the stages are long and on the bike
or quad they'll be very physically challenged," Lavigne said, adding that
the rally threw up an unprecedented series of extreme geographical scenarios
will be great differences between the tropical temperatures in Paraguay, the
high-altitude climatic conditions (in Bolivia) and then the descent into the
northwestern part of Argentina which is very dry and desert-like.
nature of the terrain, both tricky, rocky, off-road, numerous sandy parts on
the route, along with rain, wind, sometimes snow, mud, sand, salt... It makes
for a very complicated cocktail for the competitors."
vehicles, including 83 cars and 146 motorbikes, are registered for the rally,
which will feature old hands such as Peugeot's French duo of defending champion
Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres, and Toyota's two-time winner Nasser
al-Attiyah of Qatar and South African Giniel De Villiers.
Also in the
running will be nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz,
both in Peugeots, 2004 Dakar champion Nani Roma in a Toyota and Finland's Mini
driver Mikko Hirvonen, fourth on his debut in 2016.
It will be
the ninth time the Dakar Rally has been held in South America. The race was
cancelled in 2008 over security threats in Mauritania, organisers taking the
decision to move the rally to another continent in 2009.