2017 Dakar Rally preview - the same old names on the new route
The 2017 Dakar Rally will be the 38th edition of the world’s toughest rally-raid race, which started for the first time in December 1978. This year’s edition will be the ninth consecutive year that event take place in South America. For the first time, Paraguay would be one of the hosting countries, together with Argentina and Bolivia, becoming the 29th country in the history of Dakar Rally to host the event.
9000 kilometers from Asuncion over La Paz to Buenos Aires
The 2017 Dakar Rally’s route features nearly 9000 kilometers of roads, off-road tracks and dunes, staying at high-altitude for one week. The race will start on January 2, in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion. The finish line would be, same as in the previous years, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Between those two cities, the competitors will fight against each other but also against different weather conditions, from a tropical climate and 40° Celsius in Asuncion to negative temperatures over the night on the Bolivian Altiplano. The thermal amplitude will be mainly the consequence of the rise in altitude, leaving from sea level to reach nearly 5,000 meters. Including the rest day in Bolivian capital La Paz, the riders and crews will stay in the high mountains for a full week.
343 entrants for the 38th edition, 79 in the car category
The entry list of the 2017 Dakar rally has 319 entrants in five categories: 78 cars, 168 motorcycles, 39 quads, 8 UTVs and 50 trucks. In the car category, the Peugeot Dream Team remained the same as in the previous edition, with a 12-time winner and last year’s champion Stephane Peterhansel, Sebastien Loeb, Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres in all-new Peugeot 3008 DKR cars.
Toyota was busy on the transfer market during the year and three previous Dakar winners will drive Hilux pick-ups. In addition to Giniel de Villiers, for whom it would be the sixth event with Toyota, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Nani Roma are new drivers for Japanese manufacturers. The Qatari driver joined De Villiers in the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, Roma will compete for Overdrive team.
X-Raid attack Dakar with eight cars
The German X-Raid Team introduced the all-new Mini John Cooper Rally car and announced eight crews in the Mini cars. Mikko Hirvonen, who finished fourth in his debut at 2016 Dakar Rally, would be the leading driver, backed by Orlando Terranova, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Bryce Menzies, Boris Garafulic, Mohammed Abu Issa, Jakub Przygonski and Stephan Schott.
Le Mans 24h winner and FIA WEC champion Romain Dumas are returning to Dakar Rally with Peugeot, same as Citroen’s WRC driver and Dakar rookie Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi. Of other world known drivers, three former and current WRC stars will drive Fords – Xavier Pons, Martin Prokop and Nicholas Fuchs. For Fuchs, it would be the first Dakar participation. World famous Coronel twin brothers Tom and Tim are returning to South America with Suzuki-powered buggies. For Tim, it would be 10th participation, for his brother and famous touring car racer this would be the fourth attempt at Dakar Rally.
82 rookies on the list, seven female drivers in the competition
There will be 82 rookies at the starting line in Asuncion, 51 among bikers and 13 among car drivers. The woman power is most represented among bikers, with three female riders on the entry list. Laia Sanz and Rosa Romero Font are already veterans, with six previous participations for Laia and five for Rosa. The third woman on the bike will be the Russian rookie Anastasiya Nifontova.
Among car drivers, Alicia Reina will start her fourth Dakar Rally while 25-year-old Spanish girl Cristina Gutierrez Herrero is a rookie. There will be also two female drivers on quads, Italian Camelia Liparoti and Bolivian Suany Martinez.
Here’s the list of all competitors.
2017 Dakar Rally route:
Sunday January 8 – Rest Day;