Asuncion, Paraguay, will be the starting point for the 2017 Dakar Rally, as the 38th edition of this iconic event gets going on January 2.
Those taking part will have to make their way through three different countries in South America, with the finish scheduled in Buenos Aires on January 14 after passing through Bolivia. There are plenty of challenges for the competitors to negotiate; they will battle it out in bikes, quads, cars and truck categories across a variety of terrains.
Day 1 of the event is never an occasion to be missed, as all involved seek to secure an early advantage in the race to the Argentine capital. Here is the schedule for the 12 stages of racing, where you can catch the action and a closer look at who will be in the hunt for glory this year.
|Dakar 2017: Full Schedule|
|2||3 January||Resistencia||San Miguel de Tucuman|
|3||4 January||San Miguel de Tucuman||San Salvador de Jujuy|
|4||5 January||San Salvador de Jujuy||Tupiza|
|6||7 January||Oruro||La Paz|
|8 January||La Paz||Rest Day|
|7||9 January||Rest Day||Uyuni|
|10||12 January||Chilecito||San Juan|
|11||13 January||San Juan||Rio Cuarto|
|12||14 January||Rio Cuarto||Buenos Aires|
TV Info: Eurosport (U.K.), NBC Sports (U.S.)
Dakar 2017 Preview
The event’s Twitter feed posted the following clip, giving viewers a look at what’s to come in early 2017:
One of the main attractions of the Dakar Rally is the variety of competitors who take part year after year, meaning there’s something for everyone who tunes in to sample the action.
In the bike bracket, 2016 champion Toby Price is among the favourites to triumph. The Australian only entered the event for the first time in 2015 and finished in a respectable third place, although he went one better last year, putting more than 38 minutes between himself and KTM team-mate Stefan Svitko.
As we can see courtesy of his official Twitter feed, the man from New South Wales is keen to preserve the high standards he has set so far:
However, he’s admitted it’ll be a challenge. “Winning in 2016 means the target is very definitely on my back,” Price said, per the event’s official website. “In motorsport in general and on the Dakar in particular lots of unexpected things can happen and everybody is going to be gunning for me.”
One man who has a fine reputation in Dakar racing is Rafal Sonik, who has finished on the podium four times in the quads class, including a win in 2016. However, he was forced to abandon the event last year on Stage 5 due to mechanical failures.
With defending champion Marcos Patronelli absent this year, the Pole will be the man to beat in the marathon.
Sonik’s team-mate, Ignacio Casale, also has plenty of experience in the event, including a second-place finish in 2013; Walter Nosiglia was the highest-finishing Honda team member in 2016 and will fancy his chances of moving up the standings a year on.
In the cars, Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret will represent Peugeot and are a pair to look out for after their classy display last year; the French duo excelled in the high mountains last term and will feel the testing terrain included in the route will favour their skill set.
Per the Peugeot Sport team feed, with Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz also in their stable, they’ve assembled quite a squad in the cars class:
Finally, in the truck standings, Gerard de Rooy is expected to retain his title after a masterclass in rally driving in 2016.
The Dutchman, who will be supported again by Moi Torrallardona, won three stages on his way to glory last year, putting more than 70 minutes between himself and his nearest competitor.
While the Dakar is notoriously unpredictable, the calibre of that three-man crew assembled by Iveco makes De Rooy a great bet to win what’d be his third Dakar title.