DAKAR 2013: EXCEPTIONAL IS THE WATCHWORD
ANow that the introductions have been made, for the fifth edition organised on the South American continent, the Dakar will be hosted by three countries that have unveiled their characteristics over the last few years. To end the suspense, the route will be hitting the high notes and hitting hard from 5th to 20thJanuary next year. For the first time, the desert stages will make their appearance in the first few days of the rally. After reacquainting with Lima, the riders and drivers will get straight to the heart of the matter. The rest day that will take place in San Miguel de Tucuman will be more than welcome for the competitors, because, to reach Santiago, they will have to go the distance: more than 8,000 kilometres.
THREE COUNTRIES: PERU - ARGENTINA - CHILE
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Peru, episode II
Grand Start + 5 stages
The discovery of Peru thrilled everybody who reached this stage of the rally in 2012. This time, all the riders, drivers and crews will be able to test their mettle on the largest chains of dunes crossed on the continent since 2009. The Dakar has never before started in the middle of the desert in its history. Whilst the dosage of difficulties will decide just how and when the pressure rises, there will be no room for improvisation in 2013.
Argentina and its many facets
5 stages + rest day
Once it crosses the Andes Mountains, after a first visit to Chile, the rally will encounter a different face of South America: one that guarantees a broad range of terrains which smile primarily upon flexibility. In Argentina, the capacity to adapt will be vital to switch from one type of riding and driving to another and between different methods of managing the race. Although the ration of sand will be less dense, the visit to Gaucho country will nevertheless finish with a major test in which only genuine experts in desert riding and driving will be at ease.
Chile: a double and capital dose
4 stages + finish
Two distinct sequences will be played out in Chile and each of them will be decisive. The return to the Atacama corresponds with the phase of the Dakar where competitors navigate in the domain of extreme endurance. As a challenge of ultimate resistance, the sessions in the dunes will continue up to the day before the finish. Before reaching Santiago, the competitors will have to tame difficulties of the highest order right up to the end.
- Population : 29.2 million inhabitants
- Surface area : 1, 285, 220 sq.km
- Capital : Lima
- Currency : Nuevo sol
- Motto : Strong and happy by the union
The epicentre of Spanish colonial power and expansion in the 16th century, Peru has remained, in spite of separation with Bolivia (formerly known as Upper Peru), the 3rd biggest country on the South American continent. Its expanse is split between the coast, which is home to 60% of the population, the Andes Mountain range and the Amazon rain forest, which covers the eastern part of the country. The rarity and scarcity of precipitation have maintained completely desert like zones, extending on from the Chilean Atacama Desert, which the Dakar already started to explore in the 2012 edition.
Whilst the riders, drivers and co-pilots will not have the opportunity to discover the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu or the banks of the majestic Lake Titicaca, their stay in Lima and journey through the country will give them a good impression of the liveliness and cultural diversity of the nation, which possesses almost 50% of the population with mixed race Amerindian and European origins, and where Quechua is still the language mainly spoken by almost 15% of the inhabitants.
On the Dakar’s first arrival in Peru, only the hardiest of local riders and drivers in the pack experienced the pride of representing their country at the finishing ceremony in Lima. Biker Carlo Vellutino improved his best placed finish by 2 positions (89th), whilst Fernando Ferrand father and son completed the rally for the third consecutive time without fail. Three Peruvian crews featured in the final standings in the car category.
- Population : 40.6 million inhabitants
- Surface area : 2, 766, 890 sq. km
- Capital : Buenos Aires
- Currency : Argentinean peso
- Motto : In Unity and Freedom
- The leading lights of Argentinean sport : Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi (football), Guillermo Vilas, Gabriela Sabatini, Juan Martin Del Potro (tennis), Manu Ginobili (basketball), Juan Manuel Fangio (motor racing), Angel Cabrera (golf), Carlos Monzon (boxing), Hugo Porta (rugby)
With almost 3,500 km separating the border with Bolivia from the tip of Tierra del Fuego, the nation of Argentina is almost like a continent in itself. Its extent, from north to south and from east to west, produces several very different aspects of the same country. In terms of climate, relief or lifestyle, the many regions that make up Argentina are characterised by their variety. Whilst the contrasts are plentiful with regard to landscapes, the enthusiasm for motorsport is however uniformly distributed throughout the land. From Buenos Aires, where the competitors tasted their first encounters with the country’s crowds, to Mar de la Plata, where the holiday-makers deserted the beach to meet the Dakar’s riders and drivers at scrutineering and for the starting ceremony in 2012, the popular craze for this sport is constant. Almost 5 million spectators have come to witness the spectacle of the Dakar since its arrival in South America.
Argentineans have experienced ecstasy and agony with the riders and drivers who have represented them on the rally. Their designated flag-bearer, Orlando Terranova, exited the race prematurely in 2012, but his team-mate Lucio Alvarez put in a first-rate performance to finish in 5th place at the wheel of a Toyota Hilux, allowing aficionados to dream of a podium finish in the future. At present, it is in the quad category that the patriotic fervour of the fans is best rewarded. Marcos Patronelli, who successfully defended his title in 2012, with his brother Alejandro as runner-up, continued a family saga almost unprecedented in the history of sport.
- Population : 16.7 million inhabitants
- Surface area : 756, 950 sq. km
- Capital : Santiago de Chile
- Currency : Chilean peso
- Motto : By reason or by force
- The leading lights of Chilean sport : Marcelo Salas, Iván Zamorano (football), Fernando Gonzalez, Nicola Massu, Marcelo Rios (tennis), Carlo De Gavardo (motorcycling)
Long and thin, the shape of Chile, closed in on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the other by the Andes Mountains, makes it one of the vastest expanses on the planet. With 4,300 km from north to south (and almost 5,400 km of coastline in total!), Chile is practically unrivalled geographically. However, it is never more than 349-km wide and even shrinks to a width of 15 kilometres in the south. In this slim silhouetted land, all types of climate are present as well as all types of relief.
From the Atacama Desert, renowned as one of the most arid in the world, to the Andes Mountains, the riders, drivers and crews of the Dakar have been experiencing a full range of landscapes for the last four years. In sporting terms, the Chileans have got used to living the rally at the pace of their leading ambassador, Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez, winner of 6 stages since the Dakar has been visiting his homeland. Whilst Chaleco, who had been in convalescence before the 2012 edition, was forced to drop out injured after 7 stages, another Chilean took up the baton by putting in a remarkable performance behind the wheel of his BMW X3. Boris Garafulic confirmed that his ambitions were legitimate, by finishing in 12th place for the 2nd time running. The Top 10 will be within touching distance for the finish in Santiago.
Right in the middle! Obviously, it is difficult to find the absolute centre of a territory that has an elongated shape like Chile, but Santiago is nonetheless at the heart of the country, in more ways than one. Geographically, the city is equidistant from Arica, at the northern tip of the country, and from Puerto Toro, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. At the foot of the Andes Mountains, the capital is also close to the Pacific Coast, separated from Valparaiso by the Chilean Coastal Range. In demographic terms, Santiago is the biggest city and major focal point with 5.5 million inhabitants, i.e. a third of Chile’s inhabitants. The works of Pablo Neruda, author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, revealed that his home town inspired poetry as well as commitment, Santiago having been the theatre of the major events in the country’s history.
In 1541, the conqueror Pedro de Valdivia, who founded the city, named it Santiago de Nueva Extremadura (which translates literally as Santiago of the new end). This was an incitation which the Dakar could not resist answering almost 470 years later. In the mean time, Santiago had the time to develop into a major venue for South American sport, with the high point coming in 1962 as it hosted the football World Cup final, won by Brazil.
The capital of Peru and its conurbation plays host to 10 million inhabitants, a figure that places it as the 5th biggest city in Latin America. Founded in 1535, it is especially distinguished by the conservation of ancient buildings in its historical centre, listed as UNESCO world heritage site since 1991. The architectural currents that marked the construction and development of the city range from the colonial baroque style of the Cathedral, to the Creole style that characterises the Torre-Tagle Palace, the current headquarters of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including the French-inspired neoclassical style of the Municipal Theatre or the Saint-Martin square. In the City of Kings, the riders and crews that finished the Dakar 2012 encountered one last thrill on arriving at the Plaza des Armas where they were acclaimed during a grand finishing ceremony. One million spectators had come to the heart of the capital to applaud the great riders and drivers of the desert. They are expected to attend in similarly massive numbers to encourage the competitors who will set off from their city on 5th January 2013.