In just a few days, the 2019 Dakar Rally, the most famous and toughest off-road rally of the world, kicks off in Lima and for the first time in its exciting history is held in its 41st edition in only one country: Peru.
So, while pilots, their teams and vehicles are already in Lima making final preparations and acclimatizing, Off-road and Dakar enthusiasts in Lima are eagerly waiting for the opening of the Dakar Fair next Friday and everyone else of course for the starting signal two days later that will officially start the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru.
For now all we can do is share some facts, changes to the traditional set-up and new challenges of the Dakar 2019 in Peru with you:
- A total of 334 vehicles and 534 drivers and co-pilots compete in the 2019 Dakar in 5 categories: Motorcycles, Cars, Trucks, Side-by-Sides and Quads. From these 135 are newcomers.
- The 2019 Dakar will be the shortest ever. Instead of the usual more or less 9,000 km (5600 miles), drivers only have to conquer about 5,600 km (3,500 miles). Additionally, the rally will run on a new loop rally-route starting and ending in Lima with only 10 stages instead of 14 stages in previous years. About 70% of the course is sand.
- The Dakar can be very disappointing if you have to give up just several hundred kilometers after the start of the race. As this year drivers and their teams face extraordinary challenges and varied difficulties on the first days, the cars, Side-by-Sides (SxS) and trucks that dropped-out in the first part of the rally will be able to join the race again after the rest day, in a parallel competition.
- The 2019 Dakar will have a new class for cars: the UTV Open. The car category is accepting new light vehicles, that have notably been seen on the American Baja route and will now be trying their luck in the Dakar race. The UTV Open vehicles meet different technical standards to the SxS vehicles, although they are of similar size.
- In stage 2, between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona, the cars will be asked to open the race. In this very tricky special stage, the work of the navigators will be vital as they will not be guided by the tracks usually left by the motorbikes and quads.
- A marathon stage will be organized, spanning both days preceding the rest day. At the end of the 4th special stage leaving Arequipa, the vehicles will be directed towards two different bivouac camps: in Moquegua for motorbikes and quads and Tacna for cars, SxS vehicles and trucks. The competitors will join their assistance crews in Arequipa for the rest day. Then, before resuming the competition, the motorbikes and quads will once again spend a night in an isolated bivouac camp in Camaná to avoid having to drive at night on the long route before the 6th special stage.
- The open spaces offered by the Peruvian desert will enable two mass starts to be organized: for stage 5 before the Ilo dunes, then for stage 9 in a loop around Pisco.
- For stage 8, a real confrontation between the Dakar champions is on the agenda: Super Ica. The orders of departure will combine the 10 fastest motorbikes, 10 fastest cars and 5 fastest trucks from the previous stage's classification.
- In this year’s Dakar 17 women compete, making it the Dakar with the largest number of female drivers.
- Mitchel van den Brink is the youngest participant ever of the Dakar Rally. The 16-year-old won’t sit behind the wheel, but on the passenger seat as navigator-technician on the truck driven by his father Martin van der Brink.
- For the first time in its history, the Dakar will have a participant with Down syndrome. The Peruvian Lucas Barrón will be the co-pilot of his father Jaques Barrón in the UTV class.
- According to Mincetur, Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the Dakar 2019 will generate a profit of more than S/ 300 million (about US$ 89 million).
- And last but not least, after over a decade on the South American continent, the Dakar 2019 in Peru most probably will be the last on South American soil. Organizers had a tough time to put an interesting rally together. Originally the 41st edition of the Dakar was supposed to run through Chile, Peru and Ecuador; there have as well been talks with Bolivia and Argentina. According to rumors however disputes among the possible host countries and with the organizers, the economic situation and environmental issues saw Peru as last man standing. So, Etienne Lavigne, director of the rally, already hinted that the Dakar might return to Africa.