READY TO RACE: The 2017 Dakar Trophy displayed at a press conference ahead of the world's toughest race, set to begin on January 2. Image: Dakar.com / Jean-Marie Hervio
Cape Town - The Dakar 2017 rally-raid will be an event “to the nines”.
Not only will Paraguay become the 29th country to be visited by the toughest race in the world, it will also host the official start of the 39th edition of the famous event in the capital city of Asunción.
The competitors will then face a total of 9 000km of extreme challenges in the marathon race, the ninth on South American soil, finishing in Argentina, which has been a part of every of the nine events since 2009.
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Besides its sojourn in Paraguay the rally heads for its longest stay so far in Bolivia and its capital city La Paz, while the Buenos Aires, capital city of Argentina, will be the scene of the final showdown.
Also, the ninth stage from Salta to Chilecito will be the longest, a total of 977km, and according to sporting director Marc Coma it will be the toughest test for the navigators.
Coma, a multiple Dakar winner himself, described the 2017 route as one that “preserves the rally-raid tradition, with a physical challenge that will push the competitors into the world of extreme endurance”.
Seven special stages will be over 400km long, and one over 500km, and more than six days will be spent at over 3 000m above sea level.
Coma said the level of difficulty will increase with every day, with the climax reached on stage nine – the infamous “Super Belén” stage. “Nothing will be decided until the very last special stage at Río Cuarto,” the Frenchman promised.
A total of 343 vehicles (11 less than last year) –78 race cars, 168 motorcycles, 39 quad ’bikes, 8 UTV’s (competing in a new class) and 50 trucks – have been entered for the race, starting on January 2nd 2017 in Asunción.
From Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán the competitors will encounter the dusty Gran Chaco region of Argentina before entering the higher regions of Bolivia.
According to Coma the Dakar will reach its “cruising altitude” at 3 500metres and the competitors will have to use expert climbing techniques to cross the dunes encountered at this height.
The Dakar will take up residence on the Bolivian Altiplano for six days, passing Lake Titicaca and visiting La Paz before the route again descends towards Uyuni and Salta for a couple of taxing marathon stages.
Then it’s on to the dunes of San Juan before the WRC-like tracks in the Córdoba region to end off the adventure, with the podium ceremony in Buenos Aires to take place in front of the Argentine Automobile Club (ACA).
The Dakar 2017 programme:
Monday January 2nd – Stage 1: Asunción to Resistencia: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 39km – Total 454km
Tuesday January 3rd – Stage 2: Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV – Special section: 275km – Total
803km, Trucks – Special section: 284km –Total 812km
Wednesday January 4th – Stage 3: San Miguel de Tucumán to San Salvador de Jujuy: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV – Special section: 364km – Total 780km, Trucks – Special section: 199km – Total 757km
Thursday January 5th – Stage 4: San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 416km – Total 521km
Friday, January 6th – Stage 5: Tupiza to Oruro: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV – Special section: 447km – Total 692km, Trucks –Special section:
438km –Total 683km
Saturday, January 7th – Stage 6: Oruro to La Paz: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV – Special section: 527km – Total 786km, Trucks – Special section: 513km – Total 772km
Sunday, January 8th – Rest day
Monday, January 9th – Stage 7: La Paz to Uyuni: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 322km – Total 622km
Tuesday, January 10th – Stage 8: Uyuni to Salta: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 492km – Total 892km
Wednesday, January 11th – Stage 9: Salta to Chilecito: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 406km – Total 977km
Thursday, January 12th – Stage 10: Chilecito to San Juan: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 449km – Total 751km
Friday, January 13th – Stage 11: San Juan to Rio Cuarto: Motorcycles-quadbikes-trucks –Special section: 288km – Total 754km, Cars-UTV – Special section: 292km – Total 759km
Saturday, January 14th – Stage 12: Río Cuarto – Buenos Aires: Motorcycles-quadbikes-cars-UTV-trucks – Special section: 64km – Total 786km