Most unusual Dakar to date attracting more than 500 competitors

EFE

Dakar 2019 will be the race's most atypical edition to date since it is being held for the first time in a single country, Peru, but that circumstance has not affected expectations for the world's toughest rally, with at least 534 competitors from 61 countries expected to take part.

Race director Etienne Lavigne said in Lima on Tuesday that the 2019 race will feature a new format with just 10 stages and shorter driving stretches.

"It will definitely be an unusual edition. The beauty of the dunes and the extreme characteristics of the rally have attracted hundreds of participants," said Lavigne.

Among the 334 registered vehicles, there are 167 motorcycles and quads, 126 cars and 41 trucks.

By nationalities, the French - the creators of the race - are the most heavily represented, followed by Spain and the Netherlands, while the Peruvian hosts are presently in fifth place in this ranking.

"It will be a very high-level Dakar. This exceptional edition will write a special page in the history of the rally. Thanks to Peru, we have some exceptional and unique geography (with which) to put together a great event," said Lavigne.

The Jan. 6-17 race will begin and end in Lima, with the route running south along the deserted Peruvian coast and inland for a total of some 5,000 km (more than 3,000 miles) entirely over sand and dunes.

In designing this Dakar, the organization and Peru's Environment and Culture ministries have established up to 23 restricted zones where access will be prohibited to competitors, crew members and the public because they are natural or archaeological sites.

This precaution is being taken to prevent vehicles from damaging any of Peru's cultural heritage.

In 2013, a vehicle following the race apparently drove over a portion of the world-famous Nazca Lines, huge drawings made in Peru's desert landscape at least 2,000 years ago.

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