By Jonathan Bell
The 2012 Dakar Rally is heading to Peru as South America was chosen to host the event for the fourth consecutive time. Peru will play host to the final four stages of the off-road rally race after the drivers have completed the first stages in Argentina and Chile.
The two week race starts on January 1st in Mar del Plata, Argentina with one rest day in Chile on the 8th and the finish in Lima on the 15th.
- Argentina – Opening and first five stages
Competitors will begin the journey following the starting ceremony in Argentina’s busy touristic city of Mar del Plata. The veterans of the course will be well used to journeying across the country as they make a bee-line towards the Andes.
- Chile – next five stages and a rest day
The entrance to Chile will be welcomed by a climb for the drivers, and they will navigate the track between ocean and mountains.
- Peru – final four stages and the grand finish
Once they hit Peru on the 12th January it will take four marathon days of driving to the conclusion. These days will be set out as follows:
- Day One: Arica (Chile) – Tacna – Arequipa
- Day Two: Arequipa – Playa Tanaka – Nazca
- Day Three: Nazca – Palpa – Asia
- Day Four: To Lima, past the finish line and on to the awards ceremony at the Plaza de Armas.
Background to the event
Originally named “The Paris-Dakar”, this event has been running since its inaugural season in 1979. As the former name suggests, the Dakar Rally, ran in Europe and Africa, with competitors leaving Paris, France and racing to Dakar, Senegal.
This was the case until 2008 when the civilian government of African country Mauritania was overthrown in a military coup, leading to security threats and the cancellation of the event. With this in mind, the organizers relocated to South America from 2009 onwards.
Technically, it’s not a rally, but more of a ‘rally-raid’ which is an off-road endurance race where the terrain is much more varied and difficult than the traditional rallying. Specialist, competitive sections include: dunes, camel grass, mud, off-road and rocks. Daily distances vary anywhere from a couple of hundred miles to as many as 500-560 miles.
What does the Dakar Rally mean for Peru?
Potentially, quite a lot. Studies suggest that the competition as a whole generates around $70 million of revenue for the host country, on top of television coverage that is seen in more than 90 countries around the world. Peru has paid $5 million dollars in order to get the Dakar Rally to the country and it has been estimated that it should make $30 million, just from additional tourism.
An official press conference will take place in Lima on 12th April to welcome the country and add more details about the competition. The previous three years has seen the event take place across Chile and Argentina, and this year lasted between the 1st and 16th January.