Dakar Rally Route Changed for 2012

March 24, 2011
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
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Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA's Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn't matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

Francisco Lopez - Stage 8
Cyril Despres clawed back a couple minutes in Stage 11.
Americans Quinn Cody  left  and Jonah Street - Dakar 2011
(Top) Reigning champ, Marc Coma. (Middle) Cyril Despres is looking for revenge. (Bottom) Quinn Cody and Jonah Street are America’s top Dakar riders.

The 2012 Dakar Rally will take a new shape as the course works across South America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in a 9000 kilometer race. An extra stage is included making for a total of 14 days of racing. Since switching continents, the last two years have seen the world’s hardest off-road race perform a loop that starts and ends in Argentina. This year, rally competitors will leave from Mar del Plata on the eastern coast of Argentina and head up through Chile and onto Lima, Peru.

The opening five stages will kick off on January 1 and head across Argentina and the Andes Mountains where man and machine struggle over the opposing peaks, wheezing for oxygen and cross into Chile – the home of top competitor Francisco Lopez Contardo. Two more days of racing through the sand dunes and navigational challenges of the vast Atacama Desert greet racers before the allotted rest day. After a brief respite to mend battered bikes and recuperate beaten bodies, the bivouac moves gradually north, following the contour of the massive range.

Peru hosts four stages with the final time check located in the capital city of Lima. All of the riders will again be aboard 450cc machinery. The 2011 battle saw a close race all the way to the end with a change in podium finishers on the final day. Visit www.dakar.com for more information.

2011 Dakar Rally Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 51:25:00
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 51:40:04
3. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 53:05:20
4. Francisco Lopez, CHL (Aprilia) 53:34:45
5. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 54:32:03
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 54:57:56
7. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 55:24:38
8. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 55:38:01
9. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 56:17:10
10. Jacek Czachor, POL (KTM) 57:38:41