The 2012 Dakar Rally route has been set, and it’s got some interesting changes.
The rally will kick off Jan. 1 with the Grand Start and five stages in Argentina. Much of the rally has been held here the last couple years, so organizers tried to mix the race locations up a bit to keep competitors on their toes.
The route takes racers through canyons and sand dunes on a beeline to Chile and the Andes mountains; the race continues through the mountains for much of five stages with a rest day, and then moves to Peru; the four stages and finish section here will go through some massive dunes.
It won’t be the same as racing in the Sahara, but should make for good TV and hopefully will make longtime Dakar enthusiasts a little happier with the race’s relocation.
The last two years have seen racers slowly make the switch from larger-displacement motorcycles down to the new 450cc standard, and race officials say the 2012 race will see the end of the restricted, larger-displacement bikes – no exceptions, everyone’s on a 450 now.
The rule change saw four different manufacturer’s bikes finish in the top 10 last year, but KTM still seemed to dominate the race, this time with their 450 Rally instead of the 690 Rally. Only time will tell if the engine restrictions will truly level the playing field between manufacturers.