Dakar Rally special stage underway

Thousands of fans lined the streets in Rosario, Argentina to watch the start of the Dakar Rally.

Argentinian fans gather during the 2014 Dakar Rally departure ceremony in Rosario, Argentina on January 4, 2014. The 2014 Dakar Rally will thunder through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile from January 5 to 18. Picture: AFP.

ARGENTINA, Rosario - The first stage of the Dakar Rally is currently underway. Today sees the competitors drive over 800kms - 180 of which forms the special stage - before reaching their final destination in San Luis.

Rosario was the scene of the ceremonial start where thousands of fans lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the over 400 competitors taking part.

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers and his Toyota Imperial co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz were bid last on the stage and were given a rousing welcome by the phenomenal crowd.