This morning the organizers of the Personal Argentina Chile Dakar announced the details of the 2011 edition, the third in South America, which will be run from January 1st through the 16th.
This year the route takes the competitors to the extreme northern regions of Argentina and Chile, to the Bolivian and Peru borders, just until the rest day at Arica, before heading back towards Buenos Aires. The design of the route, consisting of 9000kms of roads, tracks and dunes, including nearly 5000 of competition, was done with the idea of saving the more difficult stages for the second half of the event to maintain maximum suspense and create a crescendo of difficulty. The competitors and teams are in for an extreme endurance challenge.
Veterans and novices are now ready for the adventure with 430 vehicles expected to line-up at the start of the 32nd edition of the Dakar, which is a near 20% increase from 2010. Beyond the numbers, another accomplishment has already been achieved with the finalisation of a plan to intensify the competition: the elite in the motorcycle division will compete on bikes with engine capacities inferior to 450ccs. This major change has sparked the interest of manufacturers who have entered strong line-ups in the battle for victory. KTM is back with Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, who have combined to win the last five Dakars, and now will race with equal power against Aprilia (Lopez, Duclos…), BMW (Frétigné, Verhoeven…),Yamaha (Viladoms, Rodrigues…), Sherco (Casteu), Honda (Bethys, Pisano…) as well as Beta (Boano). In the automobile category, the potential of Team BMW X-Raid, which will be led by Stéphane Peterhansel and Guerlain Chicherit, poses a more serious threat to Volkswagen. Defending Dakar champion, Carlos Sainz, knows very well that his competition is not just limited to inter team battle with Al Attiyah, De Villiers and Miller. Vladimir Chagin and his Kamaz team mates are the pre-rally favourites in the truck category, but for his return to competition, Gerard De Rooy (Iveco), has just as much ambition to go for the win as does Ales Loprais (Tatra).
Before heading into competition, the vehicles of the European competitors will first head to Le Havre on November 24th and 25th. From there they will cross the Atlantic and head to Buenos Aires. Technical and administrative verifications will be conducted on December 30th and 31st.