|SA-Dakar 2012: Sven Quandt - "Hope that we can benefit from the new route".|
Some changes have been made for the fourth edition of the Dakar in South America. In the past the event crossed just Argentina and Chile and now Peru has been added as a third host country. The new start venue is the Argentine tourist resort of Mar del Plata, about 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires. From there the route heads over 8,300 km to finish in the Peruvian city of Lima.
In the past, the first and last stages through Argentina resembled WRC-style tracks - fast and hard off-road routes. Now, the pilots have to cope with the final stages through the dunes of Peru. This means that the leaderboard could change right to the end of the event.
Good for the Monster X-raid armada - they will start with 5 Mini All4 and 3 BMW X3CC. "Our vehicles are very strong in the sand," said teammanager Sven Quandt. "We, therefore, hope that we can benefit from the new route through the dunes at the end of the rally."
Also the French top favourite Stéphane Peterhansel is happy with the new route: "I am delighted that this Dakar does not loop back to the start. I had the feeling that the organizers found it hard last year to find new and difficult routes. Now we are entering new territory again."
Competitors will face sand dunes on the early stages as well, although WRC-type tracks will dominate early on. "In this terrain, our competitors will surely be very fast," added Quandt. "But we will be able to counter attack on the following stages."
The fifth stage from Fiambala to Chilecito will feature the first of the big dunes for the drivers. From there, the participants cross the Andes to Copiapo and duly enter the Atacama desert. The route leads the crews through the driest and highest desert in the world to Peru. The South American country will be hosting the Dakar for the first time and also provides fascinating stop-off points along its coastal dunes.
"Peru is hard for the participants," said Jean-Paul Cottret, co-driver for Peterhansel. "We will face a new type of dune there." Michel Perin, co-driver for Joan 'Nani' Roma, said it could be especially interesting: "We'll have to do deal with much more sand than in past rallies. I think the rally will only be decided on the final stages in Peru."
2011/11/10 | 18:04 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/X-RAID