Mid-July was the deadline for registration of bikers and quad riders for the Dakar Rally. The organizers of the grand South-American Odyssey decided not to keep the start list secret until November, contrary to their long-term custom, and they disclosed the names of the registered favourites. And so, they announced the next round of the duel between Sonik and Casale.
The official release of ASO says that the start list of the upcoming Dakar Rally includes e.g. Rafał Sonik (2015 winner), Ignacio Casale (2014 winner), Jeremias Gonzales Ferioli (2015 runner-up), Alexis Hernandez (8th place in 2016 Dakar Rally), and Marcelo Medeiros (many-times winner of Dos Sertois).
The list does not mention the winners of last year’s Dakar Rally, the Marcos and Alejandro Petronelli brothers. The Argentinians attended one of the American rallies at the wheel of a hummer (Alejandro as a driver, Marcos as a pilot) at the beginning of the year, on the invitation of Robby Gordon. Hence the rumours saying that they were to change their class. There is no official confirmation, but their absence in the ASO’s press release is meaningful.
So, all signs indicate that the 39th edition of the Dakar Rally will be yet another round of the great duel between Rafał Sonik and Ignacio Casale that we have been following not only in South America but also on other continents. The riders will compete for the FIM World Cup, and the next round of their fight will start on 22 August in Chile during the Atacama Rally.