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Dakar Rally set for South America

Stephane Peterhansel
Stephane Peterhansel on his way to victory in the 2007 race

Organisers of the 2009 Dakar Rally have confirmed plans for the new-look event, which will take place in South America for the first time next January.

The 9,000km loop course will start and finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Starting on 3 January, competitors will race south to Patagonia, into the Andes mountains and then Chile's Atacama desert, before the finale on the 18th.

This year's rally did not take place after four French tourists were murdered in Mauritania in December.

The exact route of the 2009 event has not been finalised.

Dakar Rally director Etienne Lavigne said: "The Atacama desert, Patagonia and the Andes will provide daunting obstacles.

"There will also be sand as that's something typical of the Dakar Rally. In Argentina and Chile we are certain to find all the ingredients that make up the Dakar."

Eight of the 15 stages of the rally are usually held in the north-west African country.

The event's organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation, said there had been "direct threats against the race issued by terrorist groups".

It was necessary to take a break in Africa... the fact the resumption is on a new continent is good news

Mitsubishi Motorsport chief Dominique Serieys

Competitors will be able to sign up for next year's edition from 15 May.

"Signing-up priority will be given to the Dakar 2008 competitors," said Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar Rally.

Dominique Serieys, head of Mitsubishi Motorsport, the sporting subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer unbeaten on the Dakar since 2001, said the announcement that the 2009 edition would go ahead in South America was timely.

"It's good news, one month after the cancellation of the 2008 rally," said Serieys.

The artist formerly known as!

"Mitsuibishi will announce its decision at the end of February or beginning of March. In principle we're very interested.

"It was necessary to take a break in Africa given the geopolitical context there. The fact the resumption is on a new continent is good news.

"We've already taken part in the Atacama Rally and the Las Pampas Rally. Chile and Argentina are countries where there are great varieties of terrain."

see also
Disappointment as rally cancelled
05 Jan 08 |  North Yorkshire
Safety concerns end Dakar Rally
04 Jan 08 |  Rallying
Peterhansel claims Dakar triumph
21 Jan 07 |  Rallying

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