World of Sport

2017 Dakar will be tough­est and best yet as rid­ers tackle al­ti­tudes up to 4000m

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Oli Rushby MCN SPORTS WRITER

Ahead of the Dakar’s ninth edi­tion on Latin Amer­i­can soil, event or­gan­is­ers have an­nounced marathon stages and moun­tain chal­lenges that should make it the most ar­du­ous test of man and ma­chine in re­cent mem­ory.

A new host coun­try will join the fray in 2017, too, as the event vis­its Paraguay for the first time. Dakar Di­rec­tor Éti­enne Lav­i­gne an­nounced it would form one of the three Dakar cap­i­tals, with the event’s shake­down to take place in the cap­i­tal of Asun­ción.

There will be 146 mo­tor­cy­cles in this year’s rally raid, which kicks off with a 270-mile stage start­ing in Asun­ción on Jan­uary 2 and fin­ishes some 14 days and 5500 miles later in Buenos Aires.

In­tro­duc­ing this year’s stages, Dakar le­gend turned event Sport­ing Di­rec­tor, Marc Coma, said: “This is Dakar DNA in its purest form; nav­i­ga­tion is back in the rally as re­quested by the par­tic­i­pants. We wanted to bring the essence of ad­ven­ture back.

“There will be six stages with over 400 kilo­me­tres and a lot of sand: seven of the 12 stages will test rid­ers’ skills in the dunes. There will also be six stages above a 3500-me­tre al­ti­tude and other in­gre­di­ents in each coun­try that will make it a tough: heat and hu­mid­ity in Paraguay, cold and al­ti­tude in Bo­livia and tem­per­a­tures over 40°C in Ar­gentina.”

Sam Sun­der­land leads the Bri­tish charge and is hop­ing his bad luck so far in the Dakar does not dog his bid to run at the front in 2017. He won the open­ing stage in 2015, but crashed out on day four. The 28-year-old KTM fac­tory rider is fast enough to chal­lenge at the front but needs a fin­ish to re­ally ce­ment his sta­tus as a top-level rally star.

Other Brits hop­ing to fin­ish the event are Lyn­don Poskitt, Max Hunt, David Wat­son and Kurt Bur­roughs.

This year’s event has al­ti­tude as well as at­ti­tude

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