Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
South American country becomes 29th to host iconic event in January.
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 January 2 through to La Paz in Bolivia with Buenos Aires providing the welcome finish line in Argentina on January 14.
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.
Not only that, former champions Carlos Sainz, Cyril Despres and Nasser Al-Attiyah return with ex-rally king Sébastien Loeb 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.
He will line up in the all-new MINI John Cooper Works Rally car alongside long-time co-driver Pete Mortensen.
Carlos Sainz: “We’ve been improving a number of details for the PEUGEOT 3008 DKR such as suspension and engine drivability: all these things add up to make a difference. We’ve had a couple of tests and we raced in Morocco. We’ve stuck to a very good plan to arrive in the best possible way.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “We’re coming back with a new car and this time we have the added bonus of air conditioning. Last time we were experiencing temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius in the car so this time it will much more comfortable for the drivers. In addition to this improvement there’s plenty about the PEUGEOT 3008 DKR that will make us a competitive team in 2017.”
Cyril Despres: “All the work on the car has now been done and I have been preparing myself physically for the demands of the Dakar. This year we will spend five days racing at an altitude of over 3,800 metres and this is something I’m not used to. You need to be in shape for a challenge like this.”
Sébastien Loeb: “It’s been another full season combining rallycross and rally-raid commitments. It’s all been enjoyable because I love to discover new challenges and I’m grateful that I’m allowed to do this. The Dakar is the longest race there is and there’s nothing quite like it. I feel much more prepared this time than I did for my debut last time out.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We’re coming back to South America with the intention of winning the 2017 Dakar Rally. We have everything in place in this Toyota team to get the job done. We have the drivers, the co-drivers and great people around us which will allow us to fight for the win.”
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.”
Kuba Przygoński: “I learned so much driving a car for the first time at the last Dakar and I still think I can improve a lot. This season I have got much better at judging my speed correctly within a race. I can’t wait to race another Dakar Rally.”
Bryce Menzies: “Competing in the Dakar has been my dream for quite a while. I’ve competed in several events on different terrains and although none of them prepared me for the Dakar 100 percent I feel good with this team and in the car.”
Toby Price: “When the Dakar finishes, the preparations basically begin straight away for the next one. Since January, the thought process has been in place for 2017. I’m going to attack it the same as I did this year. That’s the system that’s working for me and I try not to stress about it too much.”
Matthias Walkner: “At the last Dakar I suffered a big crash and I learned a lot from this. I now know the importance of staying 100 percent focused while racing no matter what type of stage you are riding. The race only ends when the flag falls.”
Sam Sunderland: “The Dakar organisers keep the details of each year’s route close to their chest until the last moment, but from what we’ve heard it’s going to be a pretty tough race. But every Dakar is hard, there’s never an easy one.”
Iván Ramírez: “I think the best advice I have been given is to remain patient throughout the Dakar. You need to assess in each moment if the time is right to go fast or to control your speed. You need to be thinking about what is coming next.”
Hélder Rodrigues: “We have been working hard on the bike this year to make the Yamaha WR450F more competitive than it has been in the past. Now we must back up this work with improved results at the Dakar.”
Vladimir Chagin, Team Kamaz Master captain: “The first thing you notice about the new truck is that the ride is smoother for the people in the cab, for the crew. Whenever we hit a bump the shock doesn’t go straight up into the spine as in the cab-over configuration where you’re sitting on top of the axle. Here the shock goes into the engine so the impression you get from this vehicle is that you’re driving an SUV, only much larger.”
Ignacio Casale: “I’m feeling very calm about the upcoming Dakar and I’m confident I will have the chance to show off my speed and ability during the race. I think this will be a fast race so I’m focused on maintain a good pace for the entire two weeks of the event.”