Chile confirmed as host for 2012 edition of the Dakar Rally

With the start of the 2011 edition of the world’s toughest motor sport endurance race just over a month away, the rally’s organizers have confirmed that competitors will be passing through Chile’s Atacama desert once again in 2012.


Dakar Rally officials have confirmed that Chile will host the world’s most demanding truck, car and motorcycle endurance race for a fourth consecutive year in 2012.

Etienne Lavigne, director of the rally, said that the off-road race will again pass through Chile, along with Argentina. Organizers are considering expanding the route to other South American countries for the 2012 edition, though new locations are yet to be confirmed.

Lavigne made the statement recently in Santiago, where he was meeting with Chile’s sub-secretary of sports, Gabriel Ruiz-Tagle, to go over the details of the 2011 version of the race, which runs from January 1 – 16.

Chile has successfully hosted the race since 2009 and Lavigne, from French-based Amaury Sport Organisation, said it will keep the tradition going in South America for 2012.

“At the moment we’re staying here,” he told Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

After passing through Argentina, the 2011 version of the race will traverse the Chilean Atacama Desert, making stops in the northern cities of Calama, Iquique, Arica, Antofagasta and Copiapó.

“At the heart of the Rally, the desert stages often prove determining,” a statement on the Dakar website says of the Chilean portion of the race. “The difficulties in getting over [the sand dunes] mix with some tricky navigational choices. It’s here that the expert stands out.”

Hosting the rally is a boon to Chile’s tourism industry and this year areas affected by the February 2010 earthquake will also benefit.

Organizers are donating funds, including a percentage of race participants’ fees, to NGO Un Techo para mi País (A Roof For My Country) to support the charity’s reconstruction efforts in cities affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami

The partnership will also build four community centers in the Atacama region including a library, community hall and education room, and will construct an additional thirty new houses in Argentina.