The times when the most famous and toughest off-road rally started every year in Paris, crossed the endless Sahara Desert and ended in Dakar, Senegal are long gone. Due to security issues in Northern Africa, the Dakar Rally moved to South America in 2009. Since then the only true off road event is hosted each year by different countries challenging the drivers, vehicles and their teams every time anew.
In 2012 Peru welcomed the Dakar Rally for the first time for some race stages and then a year later the Peruvian capital Lima hosted the starting ceremony of the 34th Dakar Rally. Back then 450 teams set out to conquer the rough, unforgiving terrain the Peruvian south offers before crossing into Chile. Due to concerns over extremely bad weather conditions caused by El Niño, Peru had to turn down an opportunity to host the rally in 2016.
Yesterday now the Peruvian government announced during a press conference that the country would like to welcome the Dakar Rally again making Peru the Grand start of the Dakar 2018. An official bid was made and negotiations with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organizer of the event, are underway to hopefully close the deal.
During the 2017 Dakar Rally Etienne Lavigne, president of ASO, already remarked during an interview that Chile and Peru offer very interesting desert areas for the competition. So, it seems chances are good for Peru.
Nevertheless, Lavigne’s long-term plans are quite different: he would love to organize a Pacific Dakar crossing the continent from south to north starting in Buenos Aires or Santiago, including next to countries that hosted the event before as well Ecuador and Colombia, that until now never have been part of a Dakar Rally, and ending in Cartagena.