Following the success of the 2009 Dakar Rally, the first to be held across the border between Argentina and Chile, Buenos Aires has once again been awarded the honour of hosting the 2010 event.
Confirming the agreement, rally director Etienne Lavigne praised the smooth running of the 2009 Dakar which, following the terrorist-hit 2008 staging, moved to South America and attracted participants from 49 countries, over three million spectators along the route and an estimated worldwide television audience of over 2.2 billion.
“Following a really successful 2009 Dakar Rally, hosted jointly by Argentina and Chile, we are pleased to announce that the 2010 Dakar Rally will once again be returning to South America,” Lavigne confirmed.
The announcement was welcomed by Argentine minister of tourism Carlos Meyer, who said that the Dakar would provide a fitting start to the country's bicentennial celebrations, and echoed by Leonardo Boto, executive secretary of Argentine tourist authority INPROTUR.
“This is a major success for Argentina, and will be a boost for our tourism industry and for our international prestige," Boto explained, "It will be a fantastic opportunity for the rest of the world to see the real Argentina. We have so much to offer visitors to our country, and we will do everything possible to make the 2010 rally a success.”
The 32nd Dakar Rally will start in Buenos Aires on Friday 1 January 2010 and return to the Argentine capital for the finish on Sunday 17 January. In between, lies an 8600km journey containing around 5200km of special stages, running in an anti-clockwise loop.
Starting to the north, the opening act will see competitors running on hard soil, before the route crosses the Andes into Chile, where the main focus will fall on the Atacama Desert, with five sand stages, almost no liaisons and a journey all the way to the city of Iquique. The return trip towards Buenos Aires will take in the diversity of the mountains and other features that the continent has to offer.
New regulations should also contribute to making the event more competitive, even for the smaller entrants, in the absence of Mitsubishi. In the car class, a reduction in limit of the air intake for petrol vehicles will give the best amateurs more means to compete with the diesel technology that has enjoyed the best results in recent years, while, on two wheels, the long-held plan to only accept bikes with engines under 450cc will be delayed until the 2011 event. For 2010, an adjustment will be made allowing amateurs to continue running limited 660cc machines, while the professionals compete with 450cc at their disposal.
Registrations for the event opened on 15 May, and will continue to be accepted until the end of July.