The 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally is set to get under way in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, with a number of high-profile entrants going in search of victory in the 41st edition of this iconic race.
This year, the route for the Rally will be entirely in Peru, making it the first time in history that one country has hosted the whole event. Per Sergio Lillo of Autosport, Chile was scheduled to include some of the circuit but withdrew from hosting at the last minute.
The event will be raced over the course of 10 stages and will no doubt be a platform for drama as the competitors seek to overcome challenging terrain, as well as the mental and physical fatigue a race like this brings on.
Date: Sunday, January 6-Thursday, January 17
TV Info: NBC Sports (U.S.)
The event's official Twitter account provided an insight into what is to be expected in Peru:
It's the second year in a row that the Dakar has started in Peru, meaning there will be some familiarity for the competitors in the opening stages. However, the circuit is poised to pose different obstacles for those involved.
The terrain is expected to be primarily made up of sand, which will make things difficult for the drivers despite this route being the shortest in the event's history. The chopped-down distance also means more of the teams starting should finish the race too, adding to the competitive nature of this Rally.
In the cars category, Carlos Sainz will be seeking to defend the title he won a year ago and earn his third Dakar crown. The 56-year-old says he's been gearing up in much the same way again.
"Honestly, I haven't changed the way I prepare after winning last year," he said, per the event's official website. "Once you have won, all you want to do is come back and win again. You are still aware of what kind of race it will be and you try to adapt to the car and its characteristics."
In the bikes category KTM will be seeking to maintain their stranglehold on the race, with the winning rider coming from the team for the past 17 events.
Matthias Walkner is back to defend his title with KTM, while Toby Price and Sam Sunderland—the winners for KTM in 2016 and 2017, respectively—will also be in contention.
If Price, who was third last year, adds to the win he enjoyed in 2016, then it would be remarkable achievement given his recent injury:
Toby Price @tobyprice87
Some more hardware for the collection, once again not the best preparation leading in Dakar, but I’ll be there on the line ready to give my best! Thanks to the doctors getting me patched up and ready for 5,000KM ahead. Thank you to everyone for the messages also! https://t.co/dd3PyrLFC6
In the truck classification, Eduard Nikolaev will be seeking to make it three wins in a row for Kamaz.
As relayed by Lillo, those in car and truck categories can re-enter the event in Week 2 should they suffer a retirement in the first half of the Dakar. They would then enter their own separate classification.