2009 Dakar Rally to be held in South America - about 7,000km from Dakar

Jordi Viladoms in the 2007 Dakar

The Dakar committee’s reaction to the cancellation of this year’s Dakar rally under the alleged threat of terrorist attack has been incredibly quick. This year’s event has been nominally rolled in with a pre-existing KTM event in Central Europe, which will be run under the “Dakar Series” logo, and the organisers have announced that the official 2009 Dakar rally will be held in Chile and Argentina, starting and finishing in Buenos Aires.

In about six weeks, the committee has managed to put together a new route and timetable for the massive 2009 event, which takes the Dakar completely out of Africa for the first time - although the name won’t be changing.

Dakar Rally director Etienne Lavigne, interviewed by BBC Sport, said: “The Atacama desert, Patagonia and the Andes will provide daunting obstacles. There will also be sand as that’s something typical of the Dakar Rally. In Argentina and Chile we are certain to find all the ingredients that make up the Dakar.”

There’s no doubt that South America has some incredible geography to race through, and the 2009 event will certainly be a visual feast for TV spectators - but whether the spirit and reputation of the ultimate enduro rally will be preserved through the move… Only time will tell.

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