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article imageDakar Extreme Rally Starts In South America

By Christopher Szabo     Jan 1, 2010 in Sports
The Dakar, billed as the toughest rally in the world, begins its first leg a, 349-kilometre (218-mile) stage from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, to the city of Colon.
Considered the most dangerous rally on earth, the former Paris to Dakar Rally, originally held in various parts of North Africa, was transferred to South America because of the rise of Muslim extremist movements in the North African Maghreb region.
USA Today reports the 32nd edition of the rally and the second to be held in South America features a total of 378 drivers piloting 138 cars, 161 motorbikes, 29 quad bikes and 50 trucks, expected to cover the 9,030 kilometres (5,600 miles) in a loop across Argentina and Chile before returning to Buenos Aires on January 17th.
The rally features extreme conditions in deserts, mountains and rivers, which will include the giant dunes of the great Atacama Desert and will travel through the Pampas, which test the vehicles and drivers to their limits.
Last year’s overall winner, South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, is driving a Volkswagen Touareg, and the category favourites are also racing: Spain’s motorbike rider Marc Coma, Czech quad rider Josef Machacek and Russia’s truck driver, Firdaus Kabirov.
The Volkswagen and BMW teams are the favourites, with last year’s champion De Villiers, as well as former world rally champion Carlos Sainz of Spain and Qatar’s Ali Attiyah.
South Africa’s Times Live news website reflected the excitement in the country by focusing on champion De Villiers. De Villiers said:
Until now there is no number one. Carlos Sainz wants the race as badly as us and so does Nasser. But the truth is that there is less pressure on us and more on them. It’s nice to start as defending champion but the hunger is the same.
A point of interest is that China has entered its first official team in the rally, carmaker Chery. Ningjun Lu, a five-times Dakar rally veteran, leads China’s driver lineup. His number two is Jiang Yaoheng.
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