While Lima, the capital of Peru, resonates to the buzz and excitement of the Dakar, Jorge Viegas, President of the FIM, has paid the event a visit to meet and support all bikers and quad riders who are taking part in what is deemed to be the hardest in the world.
"This first official release as President of the FIM is very significant for me," said Jorge Viegas. “First of all, it marks the start of the motorcycle season and then, I'm here in Lima, to convince Etienne Lavigne and the ASO to merge the Dakar with the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship!”
From 08.00hrs, a portion of the 165 motorcycle and quads riders taking part in the Dakar 2019 headed to the administrative and technical checks at the military base of Las Palmas.
This year, for the first time in its history, the Dakar will take place in only one country, Peru! Steeped in history, Peru is known worldwide for the Andes mountain range and Machu Picchu, the centre of the Inca culture. But Peru also features a vast rainforest and a coastline of 2,250 km along the Pacific coastal dunes of a desert that would make the Sahara green with envy. This year, the Dakar will be 100% Peru and almost 100% sand!
Many of the riders are competitors in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and are at the start of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally. But, since the year 2000, the Austrian manufacturer KTM has won the laurels every year. It is safe to say that the last two winners, Matthias Walkner (2018) and Sam Sunderland (2017), should be front-runners again. Toby Price, winner of the Dakar in 2016 and the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rally World Champion, broke his hand in practice in Dubai at the beginning of December, but the Australian will still be at the start of the Dakar. The three KTM riders will also be supported by Laïa Sanz, Luciano Benavides and Mario Patrao.
Husqvarna will always be able to count on Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla to go for the win with, Andrew Short alongside him.
Honda’s line-up consists of Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves (who underwent a spleen operation in December after falling at a national race in which he participated), Ignacio Cornejo and Ricky Brabec.
The Yamaha riders cannot be discounted either, with Adrien Van Beveren, Xavier de Soultrait, Franco Caimi - barely recovered from a fractured femur sustained at the Rally of Morocco - and Rodney Faggoter completing their line-up.
At Sherco TVS, we find the Metge brothers, Michael and Adrien, Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino and Indian rider Aravind Prabhakar. Oriol Mena, Joachim Rodrigues et CS will defend the colour of the indian brand Hero.
In the quad category, Rafal Sonik will be the big absentee. The race could well be won again by the Argentine Nicolas Cavigliasso or Jeremias Gonzalez or the French rider Axel Dutrie...
But the Dakar would be nothing without all the private riders who prepare the race of their life for months and the motorcycles riders from the category "Original by Motul (formerly Malles Moto)" - 35 bikers and quads who are taking part without assistance.