Dakar Rally goes to South America

ASO accepted a joint-offer from the South American countries to stage the event, which will start in Buenos Aires on January 3 and cover over 9000km, 6000 of which will be timed special stages.

Despite starting in the city, most of the stage mileage will take place in neighbouring Chile before the event returns to mainly in Chile, before returning to the Argentine capital 15 days later.

Both countries have experience of hosting similar events as the Atacama and La Pampas rallies both form part of the FIA Cross-Country World Cup.

This year’s rally was cancelled 24 hours ahead of its scheduled start in January following the murders of four French tourists in Mauritania prompted the French foreign office to advise against travel into Mauritania, which was due to be traversed as part of the route to the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

“Signing-up priority will be given to the Dakar 2008 competitors,” said rally director Etienne Lavigne, referring to everybody that paid their registration fees, but never got to race on this year’s event.

The ASO announced last week announced a replacement rally for this year’s cancelled event.

The Central European Rally will take place over six days in Hungary and Romania in April and run under the “Dakar Series” banner as a pre-cursor to a full championship in 2009.