Dakar rally director Etienne Lavigne celebrated Wednesday in Buenos Aires that the coming 2010 edition of the world event will coincide with Argentina and Chile commemoration of their second bicentennial as nations.
“It’s an honour that the rally should open the year” in which Argentina and Chile celebrate their 200 years of independence processes from colonial Spain, said Lavigne on the official presentation of the Dakar Rally.
Lavigne thanked Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for the “renewed confidence” in the organization of the competition that takes off on the first day of 2010 and runs until January 17th in 14 stages (7 in Argentina and 7 in Chile) totalling 9.000 kilometres along the fantastic geography of the two neighbouring countries. The competition departs and ends in Buenos Aires.
The French director of the competition said that last edition participants enjoyed marvellous places and landscapes in Argentina and Chile but above all discovered the “fervour and passion” of the people for the rally.
After describing the 2010 Dakar rally as “spectacular and full of great adventures” Lavigne revealed that at the end of the registration period, and a few days before the vehicles leave from Le Havre, the list of competitors includes 184 bikes and squads, 138 cars and 50 trucks. The expected media coverage will be broadcasted in 189 countries and 2.2 billion people providing “an outstanding relay for the constructors, the partners and the countries involved”.
“In spite of the crisis the number of people is most important, because among other motives, who participated in 2009 had such a good time that they wished to return”, pointed out Lavigne.
Argentina’s Tourism Secretary Carlos Meyer called the competition “a sports festivity” and praised the fact the next edition will be the “bicentennial rally”.
“This event, a true celebration has won the heart of all Argentines”, said Meyer.
A similar ceremony took place Tuesday in Santiago de Chile to promote the event. Lavigne underlined that the Atacama Desert to the north of Chile will be “a most interesting challenge” for all competitors.
“I think we’ve managed a good blend of challenges in desert terrains, rocky and mountain paths and long stretches on plains which will demand a high level of sporting spirit” said Lavigne.
He added that in spite of a lesser participation 375 against 500 in the previous edition, “we must nevertheless feel proud because of the very difficult international economic context”.
“Hosting a world event of such magnitude can only be considered a great success and if it is shared with a neighbouring country it is even more satisfying”, said Carolina Tohá, spokesperson for the Chilean Executive.
She also underlined the participation of at least forty different Chilean government offices to help with the organization to ensure that the competition avoids national parks, protected areas or with archaeological remains.
“It will also mark the beginning of the Bicentennial celebrations in two neighbourly and brotherly counties”, she added.