Peru, Argentina, Bolivia to host 2016 Dakar Rally
Updated: 2015-04-17 09:49
BUENOS AIRES - The 2016 Dakar Rally will kick off Jan. 3 in Lima, Peru before racing on through Bolivia and crossing the finish line in Rosario, Argentina, on the 16th of the month, organizers announced Thursday.
At a press conference in Paris, France, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) unveiled next year's route, which will bypass flood-ravaged northern Chile, which formed part of this year's trek, but return to Peru after an absence of two years.
Representatives of the three South American host countries were on hand for the unveiling.
"Argentineans are very happy to have the Dakar again in our country," Argentina's Tourism Minister Enrique Meyer said, adding the rugged off-road race "is the world's biggest tourism showcase . .. for featuring the landscapes, culture and warmth of our people. "
Some 1.3 billion people around the globe follow the highs and lows of the often dangerous endurance race on television, he noted.
In Argentina, the route will take competitors to the northwest city of Salta, situated 1,152 meters above sea level, for a day of rest, and to the central riverside city of Rosario for the final stretch.
Organizers said the route mapped out for 2016 will "explore Bolivia ... in a completely new manner," by taking drivers across its high plains to famed Lake Titicaca.
Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao described the lake as offering an "interesting stage" for the competitors, according to the Bolivian News Agency (ABI).
Peru's minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Magali Silva, celebrated the race's return to the Andean country, saying it will bring several "benefits for the price of one," including higher tourism revenues and greater world exposure.
The exact routes will be announced later this month in each of the participating countries.
Next year's rally will mark the 38th edition of the legendary race, originally known as the Paris to Dakar Rally. It was moved to South America in 2009 when political unrest in Africa made it too dangerous to hold there, according to the organizers.
The rally organizers also announced a 50,000 US-dollar donation to an association working to reconstruct areas destroyed by the recent floods.