After a long period of waiting, the organizers of the Dakar Rally announced the route of the super marathon in 2019. Unsuccessful negotiations with Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia left Peru as the only host of the race. According to the announcement, sand dunes are going to make up almost 80 % of the route.
It had been a long period of waiting before the route of the next Dakar Rally was announced. The hints from the South American media suggested that the organizers of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally would not have an easy job. Argentina was the first one to back out, having decided to use the funds towards the organization of a local round of F1. Chile was the next one to resign, for similar, financial reasons. Bolivia requested more stages that would take the race across the country, besides Altiplano. However, when the negotiations failed, Bolivia also gave up on organizing the rally. On the other hand, the newest addition to the group of organizers, Ecuador, claims to be interested in hosting the race but not until 2020.
Consequently, Peru has become the last country standing to organize the next Dakar Rally. Nevertheless, the organizers promise that the famous sand dunes in the south of the country will guarantee unforgettable memories and real excitement. Almost 80% of the route will take place in very demanding and treacherous, sandy areas, which challenged so many of the last year’s contestants. According to the organizers’ plans, transfer roads will be short and special stages even shorter but requiring serious technical and navigational expertise. The competition begins and ends in Lima.
“Such situation is definitely a huge drawback for the whole rally. Moreover, local racers will have a real head start, since they are able to train on the dunes all year round and become very familiar with the terrain. This could be compared to the level of knowledge I have on the route from Kraków to Zakopane. Everything suggests that this could be quite a biased competition, so we are yet to see what large teams and European racers will decide to do. After all, there is an alternative race, which is Africa Eco Race, leading from the capital of Senegal to Lake Retba, along the legendary route of the former Paris-Dakar Rally. The organizer of the race is Jean-Louis Schlesser, an excellent former racer, who has been involved in nine editions so far. A team with so much experience, plus an unquestionably attractive terrain, provide a very tempting alternative” – admits Rafał Sonik.