Dakar Rally gets underway

The Dakar Rally makes its debut at its new home in South America on Saturday.   The Atacama Desert...

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The Dakar Rally makes its debut at its new home in <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><place w:st="on">South America on Saturday.<?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>

The Atacama Desert and the <placename w:st="on">Andes<placetype w:st="on">Mountains replaced the <place w:st="on">Sahara as the races venue.

Race organisers found a challenging new route in <country-region w:st="on">Argentina</country-region> and <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Chile</country-region> after last year’s race was called off amid fears of terrorist attacks.

Three South Africans will take part in this year’s race where a total of 539 cars, motorcycles, quads and trucks will drive across ten Argentine provinces and three Chilean provinces over 15 days.

Giniel de Villiers, who was second in 2006, will fly <place w:st="on"><country-region w:st="on">South Africa</country-region>’s flag high in a Works VW.

Joburger Mark Pitchford will also be in a VW and Alfie Cox will be in a buggy.

The rally sets off from <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Buenos Aires on a two-week route over more than 9 500 km before returning to the Argentinean capital.

The race begins with a 733 km stage to <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Santa Rosa.