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2017 Dakar Rally "toughest" yet, says Bolivian official

Xinhua, November 24, 2016 Adjust font size:

The 2017 Dakar Rally will be "the toughest" yet, Bolivian Culture and Tourism Minister Marko Machicao said on Wednesday.

After the French organizers of the offtrack road race, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), officially unveiled next year's route at an event in Paris, Machicao shared details of the program with reporters in La Paz.

The race, which will kick off in Asuncion, Paraguay on Jan. 2 before traversing Bolivia and crossing the finish line in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 12 days later, is being touted as "a taste of the extreme."

Adding to the usual hardships of rough terrain, will be the extreme temperatures of summer in South America and a stretch that will for the first time take racers across the dunes of the Bolivian highlands, at an altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level, said Machicao.

"There will be six difficult stages under extreme conditions, due to the elevation and weather, and more importantly, they are all long, nearly 500 kilometers," said Machicao.

The full route adds up to 9,000 kilometers, and from Jan. 5 to 10, stages four through eight will see racers pass through three Bolivian departments: Tupiza in the south, and Oruro and La Paz to the west.

Some 491 racers and 391 vehicles, from motorbikes to cars, trucks and quads, are taking part in the Jan. 2 to 14 rally.

Originally called the Paris-Dakar Rally, the race, which is open to pros and amateurs alike, was relocated to South America in 2009. Endit