800,000 Gather In Buenos Aires To See Off Dakar Rally

Posted Jan 2, 2010 by Christopher Szabo
Almost a million motor-sport enthusiasts gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to watch the so-called “symbolic start” of the Dakar Rally. The first stage was a 349-kilometre (215 mile) drive to the inland town of Colon.
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The hard part of the rally begins Saturday on the 9,000-kilometre (5,600-mile) round trip across Argentina, Chile and back to the Argentine capital on the 17th for the more than 350 cars, motorbikes, quads and trucks, the Seattle Times reports. The Dakar Rally website shows the full route they will take.
The rally, which originally ran from Paris to Dakar in West Africa, was moved to South America last year because of fears of a terrorist attack along the original route across the North African desert.
As always with a major motor-sport event, vehicles had to pass scrutineering: 134 cars, 151 motorcycles, 25 quad bikes and 52 trucks did so, with the field reduced by one after Argentina’s Javier Pizzolito’s motorbike caught fire.
Last year’s winner, South African Giniel de Villiers remains the favourite to repeat his win in Volkswagen’s official entry, a Touareg.