The Dakar rally has had a near magical way of demonstrating the exceptional for a long time. Each year, the drivers and their teams face an extraordinary challenge, combining varied, extreme difficulties. For the 2019 event, the traditional set-up has once again been overhauled, and is sure to be one of the most challenging programmes we have ever seen.
Half marathon: a second chance
The Dakar can be very disappointing if you have to give up just several hundred kilometres after the start of the race. This year, the cars, Side-by-Sides (SxS) and trucks that suffer this fate in the first part of the rally will be able to join the race again after the rest day, in a parallel competition. Competing in another class, these vehicles will have an orange plate and will never be allowed to start in the top 25 of a special stage.
UTV Open: a new class for cars
The car category is accepting new light vehicles, that have notably been seen on the American Baja route and will now be trying their luck in the Dakar race. The UTV Open vehicles meet different technical standards to the SxS vehicles, although they are of similar size. SxS vehicles, a different category altogether, where the vehicles will have a purple plate, have made spectacular progress for 2019 and will include new big names such as Ignacio Casale (CHL), Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez and Casey Currie (USA).
Marathon stage: before the rest day
A marathon stage will be organised, spanning both days preceding the rest day. At the end of the 4th special stage leaving Arequipa, the vehicles will be directed towards two different bivouac camps: in Moquegua for motorbikes and quads and Tacna for cars, SxS vehicles and trucks. The competitors will join their assistance crews in Arequipa for the rest day. Then, before resuming the competition, the motorbikes and quads will once again spend a night in an isolated bivouac camp in Camaná to avoid having to drive at night on the long route before the 6th special stage.
Special formats: covering our tracks
The open spaces offered by the Peruvian desert will enable two mass starts to be organised: for stage 5 before the Ilo dunes, then for stage 9 in a loop around Pisco.
In stage 2, between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona, the cars will be asked to open the race. In this very tricky special stage, the work of the navigators will be vital as they will not be guided by the tracks usually left by the motorbikes and quads.
For stage 8, a real confrontation between the Dakar champions is on the agenda: Super Ica. The orders of departure will combine the 10 fastest motorbikes, 10 fastest cars and 5 fastest trucks from the previous stage's classification.