After crossing the Andes Mountains, the Dakar rally begins to define itself in the Chilean desert

19 national sportsmen will have home field advantage in the caravan of motorcycles, quad bikes, cars and trucks in Atacama.

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After three days in Argentina, starting from Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day, the caravan of the 2010 Dakar Rally will cross over to Chile this Tuesday, 5 January, and will literally enter the final stretch.

The Andes Mountains are crossed westward in relay fashion via the San Francisco pass at 4,748 meters above sea level and the fourth timed stage is begun.

The special stage considers 203 kilometers of speeding across the sands of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world and one of the places that receives the most solar radiation in the entire world.

383 participants from all continents departed from the Argentine capital, including 18 Chileans driving motorcycles, quad bikes, cars and trucks.

Two former world champions stand out in the list of locals: Francisco “Chaleco” López, who is riding an Aprilia for the first time, and Carlo de Gavardo, who swapped the two wheels for a powerful Hummer on the team of the famous US driver Robby Gordon.

In motorcycles, Chile is represented by the brothers Jaime and Felipe Prohens, in addition to Gino Bianchi, Rodrigo Caballero, Manuel Jamett, John McKendrick and Claudio Rodríguez, while the local credit on quad bikes is José Miguel Hernández.

Javier Campillay, Luis Carmona, Ignacio Casale, Jorge Latrach, Fernando León and Vladimir Ljubetic are doing so in the car category, while Alejandro Briones and Francisco Casale dared to in trucks.

This post is also available in Spanish