CONTINENTAL FLAVOUR: French Dakar rally director Etienne Lavigne speaks during a press conference to present the 39th Dakar Rally. The race will start on January 2 in Asuncion, Paraguay, and run until January 14 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Image: AFP / Franck Fife
Paris - Paraguay has been added to the list of countries jointly hosting the Dakar Rally with the 2017 edition starting in its capital Asuncion, organisers announce on Tuesday.
It will be the ninth time the marathon car, motorbike and lorry race has been held in South America after switching from western Africa, with the dates being January 2-14.
After a single opening stage in Paraguay, the route will take an international field of contestants into Bolivia for five stages, passing through the capital La Paz, which is situated at 3500m.
Then Argentina will be the stage for the final week of the rally which will make its way down the Andes mountain range to finish once again in Buenos Aires.
In all the rally will have 12 stages covering between 8000 to 9000km of gruelling South American terrain.
Race director Etienne Lavigne said: "The event will now head to its 29th different country, Paraguay, for a stay in the capital city, Asuncin. The visit to Bolivia will take on a new dimension on this 39th edition, with five stages in total for jaunts along the shores of Lake Titicaca and a rest day in the highest capital city in the world, La Paz.
"The money time will finally come for the title contenders on a diagonal drawn on the map of Argentina towards the loyal Buenos Aires."
The 2016 race was won by Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel with the motorbike honours going to Australian Toby Price.