The Dakar Rally, long held high as one of the toughest off-road competitions on the planet, is at risk of not going ahead in 2019.
According to reports from industry mag Autosport, next year’s event might not make it off the starting line, thanks to host country Peru allegedly getting cold feet about finances.
In May, the race promoters unveiled the 2019 map which sees the entire event taking place in Peru. Chile and Bolivia were originally planned to be on the card but those plans were scuppered following the withdrawal of the two nations.
As seems to happen in many circles these days, the original route announcement may have been a little premature, as the agreement between organizers and the country are only at the ‘preliminary document’ stage. This is akin to when a company and a geographic area sign a memorandum of understanding, planning to build a factory but with all kinds of escape clauses for both parties.
Beancounters in the Peru government are said to be unhappy with a preliminary economic analysis of their solo Dakar venture, given the fact they’d be on the hook for a reported six million dollar fee to host the thing. Keep in mind, however, that the Dakar – even in its current form located far from its namesake – draws top competitors from around the globe. Economic returns could be in the tens of millions. All Peru has to do is decide if they want to take the gamble or not.
Most of the Dakar Rally events from its inception in 1978 were held on a route taking competitors from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal. The race was cancelled ten years ago thanks to security threats in the area, and events since 2009 have taken place in South America.
This takes nothing away from the brutal nature of the off-road endurance event, one of the toughest in the world. Stages have ranged up to 500 miles per day, crossing dunes, mud, rocks, and just about every other surface imaginable. The four major competitive classes are bikes, quads, cars, and trucks.
Your author’s favorite are the absolutely gonzo Group T4 in which trucks weighing in excess of 7700lbs compete. The sight of an enormous Iveco, MAN, or Kamaz truck bounding over off-road obstacles never gets old.
A final decision on 2019’s race is expected today around 7:00pm local time. We hope for the best.