Race officials for the Dakar Rally have just released their initial plans for the 2019 edition of the grueling off-road race, and next year Dakar competitors will compete in only one country: Peru.
The news is a bit of a shock, since in the past The Dakar has found hosts in multiple South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, & Chile). But, South America’s hospitality has been on the wane, which leads us to our next bit of news…
There is a growing idea that the Dakar Rally could be headed back to Africa for the 2020 edition and onward. Boom goes the dynamite.
All of this means that for the first time in The Dakar’s history, the iconic race will be held in only a single country. This is because of the growing austerity movements in Argentina and Chile.
Similarly, the ASO (the French organization that runs the Dakar Rally), has in recent weeks been unable to come to an agreement with the Bolivian government, which had wanted the Dakar route to include more regions of the country.
Failure to find an agreement though has left Peru as the only viable option for next year’s race. Seeing the writing on the wall in South America, the ASO has been having high-level meetings with officials in Africa, namely Algeria, Angola, and Namibia.
This would return The Dakar back to a venue closer to its namesake, though security issues in certain African countries still remain very real, and thus likely preclude a return to the race’s former routes (and it’s traditional endpoint in Senegal).
A move back to Africa could come as early as the 2020 edition of the the Dakar Rally, though exact timing still hasn’t been discussed openly.
Other changes for the 2019 season include a new rule format, which will allow competitors who drop out for mechanical or short-term injuries, to rejoin the race after the rest day, and then compete in a new “second chance” class.
This move should help keep fans entertained and interested in the rally raid, and it also helps racers and teams shoulder the burden of a retirement, after spending so much time and resources to compete in the Dakar Rally.