Dakar Rally to test competitors physically and mentally: Race director

Buenos Aires, Dec 7 (IANS) The 2017 Dakar Rally, which starts on January 2 in Asuncion, Paraguay, will be a “physical and mental challenge” for competitors, race director Etienne Lavigne has said.

Lavigne and the rally’s sporting director, Spaniard Marc Coma, said during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel in Buenos Aires on Tuesday that the 2017 race will take competitors through Paraguay, Bolivia and 13 provinces in Argentina, reports Efe.

“Dakar 2017 will feature three capitals for the first time and visit three different countries,” Lavigne said, adding that the rally’s next edition would blend “marvellous scenery” with “extreme weather” conditions, a combination that “will not fail to surprise competitors and fans.”

The 12-stage race, being held in South America for the fifth time, will cover nearly 9,000 kilometres (5,592 miles), with 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) of special stages.

On January 2, a total of 491 competitors riding 316 vehicles in five classes — cars, motorcycles, trucks, quad bikes and utility task vehicles (UTV), a light off-road vehicle — will head out from Asuncion the capital of Paraguay.

The drivers will race out of Paraguay, across northern Argentina and into Bolivia, where they will arrive in La Paz on January 7.

The route will then take them down the Bolivian Andes into Argentina and across Salta, Catamarca, San Juan and San Luis provinces.

The drivers will then head toward Buenos Aires, crossing the finish line on January 14 and completing a race considered one of the most challenging in the world.

“Let’s not forget that above all, this is an adventure and an orienteering race,” Coma, a five-time Dakar champion in the motorcycle category, said.