The Dakar rally is going to see a change in direction.
The classic desert rally isn’t headed back to Africa, but instead, it’s headed north. The South American version of the rally has taken a south-to-north route in the last couple years, but the just-released 2013 race schedule shows a north-to-south route next year.
Instead of working their way up to the desert racing stages, the race will start right off in the sand dunes of Peru, with five stages there, starting January 5. This is the first time the race has ever started in the desert.
From the deserts of Peru, the race then moves through the Andes mountains, with a brief sprint through the top of Chile, to head spend the next five stages in Argentina. After completing the Argentinian section, and taking a rest day, the race will finish with four stages in Chile, ending Jan. 20.
It seems the terrain will be incredibly varied through much of the race this year, keeping all competitors on their toes. Cyril Despres may be the top rally raid racer in the world after winning last year’s Dakar, but you can bet it will be a challenge for him to keep his title in 2013.
Want to see the 2013 route’s map? Click here.