The 2015 Dakar Rally will consume a 9,000 kilometer loop beginning and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina and passing through Bolivia and Chile. Cars, trucks, and bikes will have more separation and alternate rest days to keep them out of each other's way.
Peru will not be included in next year's event, though it appears Bolivian and Chilean activist groups that wanted to ban the race over its environmental impact lost out to those nation's hungry tourism industry.
The race will run from January 3rd to the 17th, 2015. The 9,000 kilometer/5,500 mile distance includes transport stages, we'll know more about the details of the competitive legs soon. We do know that the race will pause on the 10th and 12th for rest days in Iquique, Chile.
Iquique has been a stop on the Dakar since 2010, and is favored for excellent access to off-road terrain.
Different classes of vehicles will still encounter each other at a few points, but organizers at the ASO feel the race will flow more smoothly and safely with less interaction across classes. I think it's safe to say the car that wiped out in front of a line of trucks on a decisive day this year had something to do with that decision.
Sure keeping cars, bikes, and trucks, away from each other is the safe thing to do. But I am a little bummed we won't get as many epic images of big ass trucks bearing down on buggies. Such great diversity of equipment on the same race track has always been one of my ffavorite aspects of the Dakar, and I hope this year's changes don't detract from the experience too much.
Cars and trucks will also have "marathon" stages for 2015— longer legs during which many mechanical repairs are forbidden. Though familiar to the two-wheeled challengers, 4x4 and 2wd competitors haven't had to deal with this in the Dakar since 2005.
No updates yet on whether there will be significant changes to rules regarding vehicles, or changes to security policy after this year's incident with the Spanish Epsilon team.
2015 Dakar Rally Calendar:
May 15 - Opening of entries
July 15 - Deadline for submitting motorcycle entries
October 17 - European competitors' training day (Paris)
November 1 -Deadline for submitting entries
November 8 - South American competitors' training day (Buenos Aires)
November 19 - Presentation of the itinerary and the entry list (Paris)
"End of November" - Loading of European vehicles
December 30 - January 1, 2015 - Collection of vehicles in Argentina
January 1-3, 2015 - Administrative and technical verifications in Buenos Aires
January 3, 2015 - Start podium
January 4, 2015 - First stage of the 2015 Dakar in Argentina / Bolivia / Chile
January 10 & 12, 2015 - Rest days in Iquique
January 17 - Finish podium in Buenos Aires
Images: AP, Viva Iquique/Flickr