Argentina, Chile to host 2009 Dakar Rally

Argentina, Chile to host 2009 Dakar Rally

12.02.2008: Argentina, Chile to host 2009 Dakar Rally

Argentina and Chile will host the 2009 Dakar Rally between January 3-18 with Buenos Aires as the start and finish city, organisers said Monday.

The move comes after the 2008 edition of the event was cancelled for the first time since its inception in 1979 due to security concerns after four French tourists were murdered in Mauritania on December 24.

The 2009 rally will feature 6,000km of special stages over a 9,000km-long course, details of which are set to be unveiled in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

"Signing-up priority will be given to the Dakar 2008 competitors," said Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar Rally.

Competitors will be able to sign up for the South American adventure from May 15, and for those coming from Europe vehicle shipping by boat will be done at end of November-early December, the trans-Atlantic crossing lasting three weeks.

Dominique Serieys, head of Mitsubishi Motorsport, the sporting subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer unbeaten on the Dakar since 2001, said the announcement that the 2009 edition would go ahead in South America was timely.

"It's good news, one month after the cancellation of the 2008 rally," Serieys told AFP.

"I leave at the end of the week for Japan to present the new project and Mitsuibishi will announce its decision at end of February-beginning March. In principle we're very interested. We know the quality of the organisation of ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation, Dakar organisers) and the media attention given to the event.

It was necessary to take a break in Africa given the geopolitical context there. The fact the resumption is on a new continent is good news. Serieys predicted that any rally in South America would not be a "walk in the park". We've already taken part in the Atacama Rally and the Las Pampas Rally. Chile and Argentina are countries where there are great varieties of terrain.

The Atacama desert is very difficult. There are enormous dunes, real mountains more difficult to cross than in the Dakar. There will also be nice roads and dried lakes to cross, navigation and the Andes are another delicate terrain. All of that - bearing in mind we don't know the details of Dakar 2009 - makes for a very difficult course. But that's great, we want a testing course."


- AFP -  photo Decurnex


12.02.2008 / MaP

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