'Dakar Rally 2017 to be toughest yet'
La Paz, Nov 24 (IANS) The 2017 Dakar Rally will be the "toughest" yet, Bolivian Culture and Tourism Minister Marko Machicao has said.
French organisers of the offtrack road race, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), officially unveiled next year's route at an event in Paris on Wednesday. Machicao shared details of the programme with reporters here after its unveiling, reports Xinhua.
The race, which will kick off in Asuncion, Paraguay, on January 2 before traversing Bolivia and crossing the finish line in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 12 days later, is being touted as "a taste of the extreme".
Adding to the usual hardships of rough terrain, will be the extreme temperatures of summer in South America and a stretch that will for the first time take racers across the dunes of the Bolivian highlands, at an altitude of 3,500 metres above sea level, said Machicao.
"There will be six difficult stages under extreme conditions, due to the elevation and weather, and more importantly, they are all long, nearly 500 kilometres," said Machicao.
The full route adds up to 9,000 kms, and from January 5 to 10, stages four through eight will see racers pass through three places in Bolivia -- Tupiza in the south and Oruro and La Paz to the west.
Some 491 racers and 391 vehicles, from motorbikes to cars, trucks and quads, are taking part in the January 2 to 14 rally.
Originally called the Paris-Dakar Rally, the race, which is open to pros and amateurs alike, was relocated to South America in 2009.