The 2013 Dakar Rally will again be held in South America with event organizers announcing a new route for the 34th running of the off-road race. Now in its fifth year in Latin America, the 2013 edition of the Rally will feature a new route running from north to south, starting Jan. 5 in Lima, Peru, and ending Jan. 20 in Santiago, Chile.
The new route puts the desert portion of the course in the first few days of the Dakar Rally, the first time the event has ever started in a desert. The course follows the Pacific coast before turning inland, briefly traversing Chile before crossing the Andes into Argentina which offers a mix of terrain towards San Miguel de Tucumán for the midpoint of the Rally.
After a day of rest in San Miguel de Tucumán, the Dakar Rally continues south towards Córdoba before turning northwest and through the Andes again back to Chile before again following the Pacific coast southward towards the finish in Santiago. The entire course spans about 5000 miles of challenging terrain for the 459 entries registered for this year’s race.
KTM riders have won the last 11 Dakar Rally races, and a pair of factory supported KTM riders will be the favorites in the upcoming race. The Red Bull KTM team will enter four-time winner Cyril Despres (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012) while three-time winner Marc Coma (2006, 2009, 2011) will represent the KTM MRW Rally Team.
Hoping to end KTM’s dominance in the Dakar Rally is Honda who will enter a works team for the first time since the early ’90s. Honda has developed a new CRF450 Rally model for its return to Dakar. Based on the CRF450X, the Rally model adds fuel injection, auxiliary fuel tanks, navigation equipment and lower side fairings. Representing Honda are 11-time Baja 1000 winner Johnny Campbell, Hélder Rodrigues, Felipe Zanol, Sam Sunderland and Javier Pizzolito.
Husqvarna will be represented by Paulo Gonçalves, Joan Barreda and Jordi Viladoms riding TE449 RR bikes prepared by Speedbrain. The 2013 version has a new frame developed from data gathered in last year’s Dakar Rally, with Speedbrain preparing lightweight carbon kevlar bodywork.
Yamaha will field Frans Verhoeven, Olivier Pain, David Casteu and David Frétigné on a 450 four-stroke machine.
[Source: Dakar; photos by Dakar, Honda, Husqvarna and Edmunds J. KTM Images]