After the famous Dakar race was transferred from the African continent to South America for safety reasons in 2009, Peru has been longing to be included in the race ever since. This year Peru finally gets the chance to showcase part of their amazing and diverse landscapes to the world. On January 12, 2012 Dakar finally hits Peru for the first time in history. There will be 4 stages in Peru ending on the main square of the capital Lima.
The former race known as Paris – Dakar, originated in 1979 and soon enough became known as one of the toughest races in the world for motor drive vehicles. The race initially was held from Paris (France) to Dakar (Senegal) but for publicity reasons both the start as well as the end city have often been changed in the last couple of years. This is when the race adopted a new name; Dakar. Over the years the Dakar rally has attracted thousands of race enthusiasts enjoying the large caravan passing through their country and all the attention it attracts. In the early years of 2000, the Dakar rally started to attract other attention as well. As the race passed through some of the poorest countries in the world, the impressive caravan of cars also attracted people with lesser intentions and in 2008 this motivated the French government to warn for possible terrorist attacks, causing the complete suspension of the rally.
In 2009 the organization started looking for an alternative to hold the race as they felt that they could not guarantee the safety of the participants in Africa. The alternative was found in South America. The organization felt that Chile and Argentina possess a more than challenging racing ground and were politically more than stable enough to hold a race of this caliber. From 2009 till 2011 the race was held solely in these countries and started from Buenos Aires, crossing Northern Argentina and the Andes to reach Chile. In Chile they raced through the North of the country with the famous Atacama Desert as one of the highlights. From here the race returned to Buenos Aires for the finish.
This year Peru’s long lobby efforts have paid off. The country, from the moment the race set foot on this continent has always been in the interest of the Dakar organization to include Peru but last year Peru was able to convince the Dakar organization that it holds all the cards to be a new and great destination for the race in 2012. Peru holds an ideal racing ground for the race, as Dakar never has disputed; nevertheless the organization this year was convinced of the political and commercial compromise of Peru.
Peru has been granted not only 4 stages, adding up to about 1900 kilometers of racing on their territory, they have also been honored with the finish in Lima. The race will pass through some parts of the Lower Andes but the main focus of the race lies on the Peruvian South Coast. The Peruvian South Coast is for a large part made up out of desert with different undergrounds. The racers will find here some of the most challenging grounds of this year’s race with some of the highest sand dunes in the world.
After arriving from Chile through the border city Arica, the first Peruvian city to be visited will be the “Heroic City” of Tacna. From here the rally will set course for Peru’s second city; Arequipa. In the “White City” the drivers will be received with a ceremony and receive their Passport of Arequipa, a remnant of Arequipa’s earlier attempts for independence from Peru. From Arequipa the race will continue to Nazca, famous for its amazing Nazca Lines and the start of a large stage through Peru’s sand desert. From Nazca they will race to Pisco and on to Lima. At about 100 kilometers before Lima, in a beach town called Asia, the finish line will be located. From here all racers form a large caravan and continue to Lima in a final stretch of honor. They will cross parts of the Panamericana, the longest highway in the world, until they reach Lima. In Lima they will pass by several major avenues until reaching the majestic Plaza de Armas of Lima. Here they will probably be received by President Humala who will open the closing ceremony for this year Dakar Race.
The interest for the sport has definitely increased a lot in Peru with 5 cars, 4 motors and 2 quads participating this year. Hopefully it will become a great sporting event and change into a yearly happening passing through this country having so much to offer for all types of sports.
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