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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Budapest-Bamako: Participants gear up for world's largest Amateur Rally.

Preparations have been completed for the demanding, two-week marathonrally, the Budapest-Bamako. After the withdrawal of the Dakar Rally from Africa, the Budapest-Bamako is now the largest off-road, endurance race in the region covering two continents, eight countries and nearly 10,000 kilometers.

Teams have to complete the route from the heart of Europe to West Africa, driving on harsh desert terrain in the Sahara and several difficult stages in the African bush. "This will be our most difficult rally to date." - said Andrew G. Szabo the founder of the event.

In addition to the driving and navigational hardships, team will have to encounter the side effects of political turmoil in Mauritania and Western Sahara. In Mauritania the democratically elected government was toppled by military coup this August. Terror threats in Mauritania also led to the cancellation and eventual pull out of the Dakar from the continent. In Western Sahara participants have to pay special attention to minefields around the track. "The Assa-Smara stage will be especially challenging. This leg of the rally was the scene of some heavy battles between the Polisario rebel movement and the Moroccan army. Antipersonnel landmines are a living legacy of this conflict."- added Mr. Szabo.

There will be over 3000kms of special stages off paved roads. The first such leg will begin just 140 kilometers from Budapest. Teams will have to cross from Hungary to Slovenia through the scenic forest roads of Western Hungary. They will have to complete punishing road courses in the French Alps and the Pyrenees before crossing to Africa.

In Morocco the recent floods will make the race more challenging. Several bridges and roads have been washed away in the October floods. "During the recon mission we had to cross many rivers by car because of the extensive damage done to Moroccan roads and bridges"- added Mr. Szabo.

In spite of all the hardship, a record number of teams have enrolled in the 2009 Budapest-Bamako. 630 people from 45 different countries are expected to line up at Budapest' Heroes’ Square on January 17th, 2009. In addition to several European teams, crews will represent India, Iran, U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

There will be 212 cars, 31 motorcycles, 6 trucks and 3 buses. In addition to the well prepared off-road cars, there will be some Eastern European automotive relics, a Citroen-DS, a Mini Morris, the organizer's 40 year old Peugeot 504, a 1961 Hungarian fire engine, a vintage Polish ambulance and a rare Austin Montego. In recent years an ice cream truck, a 3 wheeled Velorex, and Ikarus articulated bus enrolled in the event too.

Despite the colorful line-up of vehicles, the Budapest-Bamako is expected to be the heir apparent to the Dakar’s throne in Africa. "For Mauritania the Budapest-Bamako is already more important than the Dakar" - said Idoumou Abderahman the president of the Mauritanian Travel Association. The rally is currently responsible for more than 5% of the countries' annual tourism.

The fourth Budapest-Bamako will start from the Hungarian capital on January 17th. After completing stages in Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali teams are expected to cross the finish line in Bamako on January 31st, 2009 at 11:00AM.

Official race route Budapest-Bamako 2009:

01. Budapest-Brescia 851 km
02. Brescia-Montpellier 731 km
03. Montpellier-Almeria 1140 km
04. Almeria-Merzouga 750 km
05. Merzouga-Foum Zgid 410 km
06. Foum Zgid-Tadalt 450 km
07. Tadalt-Smara 437 km
08. Smara-Tropic Of Cancer 770 km
09. TOC-Bou Lanoar 370 km
10. Bou Lanoar-Atar 480 km
11. Atar-Tidjikja 450 km
12. Tidjikja-Kiffa 400 km
13. Kiffa-Korera Kore 450 km
14. Korera Kore-Banamba 375 km
15. Banamba-Bamako 250 km

For more informations visit the official website at [ ] will cover the Rally with two own reporters and will report daily to the Internet with News, Pictures and Videos.

2008/11/27 | 17:33 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Andrew Szabo

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