ORGANIZERS OF THE inaugural “Dakar Rally” in South America expect the event to generate a lot of global interest when it begins Jan. 3 in Buenos Aires.
“There is a very real enthusiasm for the 2009 edition,” says race director Etienne Lavigne. “We’ve received almost 600 applications (to race) and the event will be broadcast in 180 countries.”
Lavigne says the race is drawing coverage from 25 foreign TV channels, 38 photographers representing 10 photo agencies, 30 radio journalists, and 125 accredited newspaper journalists permanently on-site for 96 publications.
Historically held in Africa, the rally was cancelled for the first time in its 30-year history in 2008 after the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs advised organizers that they were no longer able to guarantee the safety of the participants following threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organizations.
Stage One of Dakar 2009 begins in Buenos Aires on Saturday Jan. 3. Teams and riders from 49 countries will then be running on full gas 5,903 miles over the legendary Argentina Pampas, into Patagonia, across the Andes mountains, and across hundreds of miles of desert and sand dunes until the completion of Stage 14 back in the Argentinean capital on Jan. 17.
OEMs scheduled to participate in the motorcycle division include KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Gas-Gas, BMW, Kawasaki, Sherco, Beta, Husqvarna, Suzuki and China’s Jincheng.
About 30 quads also are expected to take part in the rally. Brands competing in the ATV division include Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris, BRP’s Can-Am and KTM.