But until the day comes to the revelation of the full 2019 route, ASO already made the announcement that Peru will part be of next edition of the Rally. This year Peru hosted the start and the first five stages of Dakar Rally, making the country and its dunes the highlight of the race. The extremely demanding dunes of the Atacama desert proved to be a real challenge for man and machine taking both to the extreme, forcing many teams including several favourites to end their race here. After 10 years in South America, Dakar’s spirit was finally back, the adventure, the overcoming obstacles both physical, mechanical and even mental, finally put and end to the criticism that the Dakar rally was not any more the “real Dakar”. The Peruvian stages can only be evaluated as a big success and a boost in confidence for the organizers, that they surely want to repeat in 2019, so it is no surprise that ASO announced Peru’s return next year.
It remains to be announced what other countries will join in to complete the route of the Dakar Rally. Many people are assuming as a fact that Chile will also be part of the route, maybe even hosting the start of the event. Then the rally will run from south to north along the Pacific coast and cross the Atacama desert. There are also many voices in South America confirming Ecuador as the arrival country.
The “Pacific coast” solution could leave Bolivia and Argentina out of 2019 edition, or at least reduce a lot the chances of these two countries to see the Dakar competitors racing on their tracks and roads. Bolivia raises some problems, despite the support of Evo Morales government: the altitude, the persistent rains, as well as the extreme cold of some localities don’t make the return easy, yet not impossible.
Argentina is an extremely different story: without Argentina, the chances to ever have a “South American Dakar” were almost non-existent. Since the first edition, the rally found here a safe ground, in a large country with many different landscapes and terrains, a friendly government and above all, a huge popular support that helped the rally to overcome many of the challenges of the radical change from Africa to South America. ASO should be facing some complicated decision, or specially, how to communicate them. The Argentinian fans have a huge passion for Motorsports and Dakar is already part of their regular calendar, and they don’t even want to hear about the moving of the race to other countries, specially after the huge part Argentina played in Dakar’s survival after 2008 cancellation.
The “Pacific Dakar” rases many problems for the return to Argentina, from organizational to sporting. But apparently the main reason is the lack of support from the government that after one decade is, in some people’s opinion, more interested in getting F1 back instead of keeping Dakar Rally.
After many news and rumours that showed up in local news, the public decided to take the problem in their hands. There is already a campaign on in Argentina to try to prevent Dakar from leaving the country. The #NoPerdamosElDakar is trying to keep the Dakar in Argentina, with many fans showing support and also drivers, riders and journalists.
Again, we will have to wait for the official news from ASO, but could it be possible for the French organizer to drop Argentina from the route, specially with the volatility of decisions in the remaining countries? We will see in just some days.