Dakar 2012 scheduled to go coast-to-coast

Dakar 2012 scheduled to go coast-to-coast

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Dakar 2012 scheduled to go coast-to-coast

Photo provided by the Amaury Sport Organisation shows the map of the 2012 Dakar Rally that starts on Jan. 1

The 2012 Dakar Rally is a coast-to-coast trek from the Argentine city of Mar del Plata on the Atlantic to the Peruvian capital Lima on the Pacific, organizers revealed yesterday.

The 33rd Dakar, which starts on January 1, is the fourth to be held in South America, the two-week event having moved to the continent after the 2008 edition was called off due to security issues.

Dakar director Etienne Lavigne said: “There will be five stages in Argentina, five more in Chile, and then four to finish with in Peru, making up 14 days of racing compared to 12 last year.

“With Peru and its fabled dunes added to the programme its going to be an extremely tough race that’s awaiting competitors. There’s a great variety of difficulties.”

Up to now the circuit for motorsport’s most gruelling of events in South America has begun and finished in Buenos Aires.

A total of 465 competitors have entered the 2012 Dakar, comprising 171 cars, 185 motorbikes, 76 trucks and 33 quadbikes. The route is 8,500 kilometres long with 4,200km made up of special stages.

Two of the toughest specials will be the 12th, a 246km drive from Arequipa to Nasca and the 13th (276km from Nasco to Pisco) across the dunes.

“It’s the route which will determine the quality of this edition,” commented Lavigne.

“But it’s obvious that we’re looking to increase the level of sporting interest.”

Spain’s Marc Coma, who added the 2011 moto title to his wins in 2006 and 2009, aims to add a fourth victory with France’s three-time former winner Cyril Despres one of his main rivals.

Among the cars Stephane Peterhansel, who has won the Dakar a record nine times (six moto and three car titles) will once again be one of the main favourites, along with Carlo Sainz and Giniel De Villiers of South Africa.

In all there are 50 nationalities represented in the starting list.

The 2012 Dakar is due to be screened to 190 countries with organisers hoping for an increase in the five million viewers of 2011.