Last Updated: 2019-01-07
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LIMA, Jan 7 (NNN-ANDINA) -- The 41st edition of the Dakar Rally —taking place entirely in Peru on Jan 6-17— kicked off with a symbolic start Sunday in Lima.

Enthusiastic spectators gathered in Magdalena district's Costa Verde bay to watch the start podium ceremony, slated to begin at 3 PM (local time).

The event featured competitors, organizers, and eager attendees who had been waiting for the vehicles to show up.

Also attending were Lima's Mayor Jorge Muñoz, as well as Ministers Edgar Vasquez (Foreign Trade and Tourism) and Fabiola Muñoz (Environment), among other dignitaries.

This year's race will be run on a new loop rally-route, with the start and finish in Lima.

It will also traverse southern regions of Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.

Stage cities include Lima, Pisco, San Juan de Marcona, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.

This year Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia all pulled out for reasons of austerity, leaving Peru as the sole host of the 2019 race.

It should be noted this is the first time that the Dakar will take place in a single country.

This change is reflected in the reduction of the rally from 9,000 km over 14 stages in 2018 —when it went through Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia— to 5,000 km across 10 stages in 2019.

The shorter course has not put off the competition with all the big names of the recent past such as multiple winners Carlos Sainz, Stephane Peterhansel, and Cyril Despres.

National racers such as Nicolas Fuchs, Fernanda Kanno, Diego Heilbrunn, Fernando Ferrand, Miguel Angel Alvarez, Francisco Leon, Jose Salaverry, Sergio Samaniego, and Anibal Aliaga will participate in this edition. They will be joined by Gianna Velarde.

Likewise, Peru's Lucas Barron will make history as the first person with Down syndrome to compete in the toughest rally in the world.

A total of 534 participants and 337 vehicles —bikes, quads, cars, SxS, and trucks— are to cover the 2019 route of this prestigious off-road race.

As is known, the Inca nation has hosted previous editions in 2012, 2013, and 2018. -- NNN-ANDINA