the holiday season, beaches in "La Feliz" are usually
packed with holidaymakers. But during the Dakar opening ceremonies,
thousands of spectators switched their focus on Plaza Colón, where a
podium has been set up for the presentation of the teams to the
public. The participant's vehicles are on display for the public to
view before they start their journey. Despite the festive ambiance in
the city, a handful of competitors are trying to put their mind on
the game in preparation for the race.
The battle for the four titles at stake has began! Both a motor race and an orienteering challenge, the Dakar Rally pits some of the world's greatest long-distance rally drivers against each other. Starting from Mar del Plata heading towards Lima, the pilots of these 443 vehicles in the bike, quad, car, and truck categories will start their 8,300 kilometer trek through Argentinean, Chilean, and Peruvian territory hoping to get a spot on the podium.
Top contenders in the car category will be Nasser Al-Attiyah, who has teamed up with a former rival, Robby Gordon, they will be driving a Hummer H3 decorated with the colours of Qatar. Al-Attiyah will probably have to beat a former teammate if he wants to mount a successful title defense. At the wheel of the MINI Countryman, which makes its Dakar debut, is Stéphane Peterhansel who is gunning for his 10th win after years of trying. The challenge attracts competitors of more than 50 nationalities, who are watched on television by over a billion viewers in 190 countries.