The 2017 Dakar Rally launches in January with the drivers and riders facing 10,000km of the toughest terrain known to man and machine.
The competitors will start out from Paraguayan capital Asunción on 2 January through to La Paz in Bolivia with Buenos Aires providing the welcome finish line in Argentina on 14 January. (View or download route pdf here.)
Scorching South American summer temperatures, allied with draining high altitudes and the threat of torrential rainstorms will test the elite field to their limits.
The Red Bull Desert Wings squad includes reigning champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret of France in the car category and Australian Toby Price, who stormed to 2016 victory on his bike.
Giniel De Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) will be racing with Toyota Gazoo Racing as they get behind the controls of the Hilux in South America. These formable pairings already have a total of three Dakar wins between them as well as the unquenchable desire to grab victory once more.
Giniel De Villiers: “The Hilux this year is definitely the best Hilux I’ve driven. We’ve made improvements everywhere: engine, suspension, the whole lot. We’re definitely going to go out there and do our best, let’s see if we can get to the front.”
Not only that, former champions Carlos Sainz, Cyril Despres return and ex-rally king Sébastien Loeb is looking to impress for Team Peugeot Total in their brand-new car, the fearsome 3008 DKR.
Multi-truck winner Vladimir Chagin will be keen to get back to winning ways too for Kamaz Master Team.
Finally, the 2017 edition will mark Bryce Menzies’ first entry into the Dakar Rally thereby becoming the first American in six years to undertake the legendary race with the backing of a factory team. (Bryce made history in August of this year when he set the World Record for farthest distance jumped in a truck when he launched his Pro 2 offroad truck 115.6 metres over a New Mexico ghost town.)
He will line up in the all-new MINI John Cooper Works Rally car alongside long-time co-driver Pete Mortensen.
Source: Red Bull
Images: Craig Kolesky, Flavien Duhamel