The racers in the 2019 Dakar Rally, being run this year exclusively in Peru, on Sunday will go into the sixth and longest leg of the race: a total of 838 kilometers (520 miles), 330 km of which will be timed for cars and 336 km for motorcycles.
The stage stretches from Arequipa and San Juan de Marcona, with a 440-km portion coming prior to the zone where the main competition is anticipated, that through the feared Tanaka dunes.
To make the trek less grueling, the caravan of drivers departed on Saturday afternoon, a rest day, to spend the night at an intermediate point and be able to begin the race early on Sunday.
The leg is somewhat of a reversal of the third leg, and thus the racers will, no doubt, retrace some of the tracks they made four days ago, and the biggest risk will be becoming disoriented amid the desert landscape and not being able to find the precise route.
The terrain to be covered is 75 percent sand, of which 30 percent is dunes, while the remaining 25 percent of the leg is rocky and dry.
This leg is the first in the second part of the rally and is sure to be one of the most decisive portions of the race in determining the winners in each category.
Currently, Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) holds a 25-minute advantage over France's Stephane Peterhansel (Mini) in automobiles, while in motorcycles US rider Ricky Brabec will have to go on the attack to preserve his narrow first-place margin.
Briton Sam Sunderland (KTM), who is just 59 seconds behind Brabec, will seek to prove that he's one of the best navigators over dunes on a day when Argentina's Kevin Benavides (Honda) and Chile's Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) are also seeking to move up in the rankings.