The 39th Dakar Rally will be the toughest yet in South America as rule changes, new routes and high altitude riding all look set to make life harder for riders.

The 2017 Dakar rally will be the toughest in recent history with dramatic changes to the route, half the event ridden above 3600m and new navigation rules predicted to make lead changes and restore “the essence of adventure” back to the Dakar.

With a year under his belt as Sporting Director, five-time Dakar winner, Marc Coma, has used his unquestionable knowledge of the event to introduce new rules and routes designed to make the 2017 Dakar “the most demanding of all those run in South America.”

Paraguay capital, Asuncion will play host to the rally shakedown, opening podium ceremony and event start on January 2nd. The rally heads across the Argentinian plains before hitting the Andes by stage four where altitude will become to be a major issue for riders. Difficulty increases from there with stage six the longest of the 2017 Dakar, some 527km of racing to reach La Paz, Bolivia, for the rest day at the half way point.

Riders will spend seven of the 12 stages racing between 3600 and 4000 metres with the rest day after stage seven again in La Paz (Bolivia), which at 3600m is the world’s highest capital city.

In total six of the special tests (the raced element each day) will be over 400km in length, with overall total day’s length including liaisons clocking over 700km on eight of the stages. Stages 8 and 9 look like being the toughest at 892km and 977km respectively.

Coma said after the 2017 Dakar presentation in Paris, “the difficulty will be a lot of combinations of things in any one day, that is what will make it hard, day-after-day. The days where we have altitude, sand, technical riding, navigation…they will have it all. You have to handle all the elements and I think that is what makes it interesting this year.”

Navigation will play a big part in this year’s rally with riders having a much harder time than the cars and trucks who can rely on co-drivers to do the map reading. In 2017 the roadbook information will be more limited and waypoint controls will only reveal when riders arrive at them, which means riders will need to follow the compass more to find them. Gone are the days when riders could ride flat-out between waypoints.

 

 

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