The official presentation and the route details for the 2017 edition of the Dakar Rally were unveiled this week at a ceremony in Paris. With the addition of Paraguay, the Dakar will visit the 29th country in its history and the 5th on the South American continent, but as Paraguay makes its entry into the race program Chile makes its exit.
The countries competitors will travel through on their way to the finish line are Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, which has been a part of every edition in South America since 2009. Paraguay’s capital Asuncion will host the start of the Dakar while Buenos Aires marks the finish line.
The rally will be run this coming January 2-14 in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina over nearly 9.000kms of roads, tracks and dunes, with a stay at high-altitude for one week.
The competitors will set off from Asunción under a tropical climate and heat in excess of 40° Celsius, then confront negative temperatures a few days later… for those who press on during the night on the Bolivian Altiplano.
The thermal amplitude will be mainly the consequence of the rise in altitude that the Dakar will experience, leaving from sea level to reach nearly 5,000 meters. After several incursions near Uyuni since 2014, the competitors are being offered a proper exploration of Bolivia. Including the rest day at La Paz, the riders and crews will stay in the high mountains for a full week. Physical and mechanical management to the atmospheric changes will be among the parameters to take into account.
But the weeding out process will be based on, above all else, the essentials to rally-raid success: navigation aptitude, to which more attention should be paid with the modifications made to the guidance system, consistency, put to the test with six special stages of more than 400kms, dune crossing and driving in sand, especially on the sections of the route still unknown to rally-raid regulars or during the all-important “Super Belen” stage, three days from the finish line in Buenos Aires.