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Dakar: Once you have the basics…

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With thanks to www.redbull.com.au, here’s some specific insight into the 2017 Dakar.

The Dakar Rally’s reputation as the most extreme rally on the planet is in no danger of diminishing following details of the new route being revealed by race organisers. With some stages containing more than 500km against the clock, and six consecutive days at over 3,000m above sea level – there’s a punishing schedule awaiting those brave enough to make the trip to South America.

Watch the clip above to see how the Dakar will snake through South America this January and scroll down for a detailed stage-by-stage preview.

Stage 1: Asunción (PAR) to Resistencia (ARG)
Timed stage: 39km
Total distance: 454km
The 2017 Dakar Rally gets underway in Asunción, as Paraguay becomes the 29th country to host the famous race. It’s a short stage to get us underway with less than 40km against the clock, and we’re sure to see some frontrunners looking to gain an early advantage over their rivals.

Stage 2: Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán
Timed stage: 275km
Total distance: 803km
Timed stage: 284km
Total distance: 812km
As we leave Paraguay and head into Argentina the distance increases sharply, with over 800km to cover and close to 300km inside the timed special stage section. Competitors will have to pay close attention to weather reports, as dust clouds or mud baths could await, or maybe even a mixture of both.

Stage 3: San Miguel de Tucumán to San Salvador de Jujuy
Timed stage: 364km
Total distance: 780km
Timed stage: 199km
Total distance: 757km
As temperatures go up so does the altitude out on the course, as the third stage of the Dakar is exclusively offroad. There are numerous river crossings to be navigated, and each one a potential pitfall as depth is always difficult to gauge.

Stage 4: San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza (BOL)
Timed stage: 416km
Total distance: 521km
As we lift off into Bolivia the altitude reaches a nosebleed inducing 3,500m above sea level. There’s also the challenge of dunes to overcome, an intense test of both driving and navigational skills.

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) from Team Peugeot Total is seen with fans during stage 5 of Rally Dakar 2016 from Jujuy, Argentina to Uyuni, Bolivia on January 7, 2016.
Sébastien Loeb gets a warm welcome in Bolivia© Eric Vargiolu/DPPI/Red Bull Content Pool

Stage 5: Tupiza to Oruro
Timed stage: 447km
Total distance: 692km
Timed stage: 438km
Total distance: 683km
There’s plenty of anticipation building around this stage, which seems to have a bit of everything about it. We have not only one, but two dune sections mixed into wildly fluctuating terrain covering over 1,000km, and all at an ear-popping altitude.

Stage 6: Oruro to La Paz
Timed stage: 527km
Total distance: 786km
Timed stage: 513km
Total distance: 772km
Just as one long day ends another one begins at the Dakar. The first week of racing concludes with another epic stage in Bolivia, which passes though the beautiful landscapes surrounding Lake Titicaca. But there’s no time to hang around admiring the scenery if you want to make it to La Paz before nightfall.

Stage 7: La Paz to Uyuni
Timed stage: 322km
Total distance: 622km
Following a well deserved rest day in La Paz, the remaining competitors are sent away for the first part of a marathon stage. Protecting their machines is key, because at the end of the day they will be denied any mechanical assistance and must make any necessary repairs themselves.

Stage 8: Uyuni to Salta (ARG)
Timed stage: 492km
Total distance: 892km

The passports come out for the last time as the final border crossing of the 2017 Dakar sees the convoy leave Bolivia and reenter Argentina. Salta has witnessed some dramatic racing in recent editions of the rally, and we could be in for more shock results in the region’s many canyons.

Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) of Team KAMAZ Master races during stage 08 of Rally Dakar 2016 from Salta to Belen, Argentina on January 11, 2016.
Ayrat Mardeev navigates the canyons of Salta© Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Stage 9: Salta to Chilecito
Timed stage: 406km
Total distance: 977km
Race organisers have already dubbed this stage The Super Belén, and with a timed special stage of over 400km it looks likely to live up to its name. We’ll see a dreaded mix of distance and technical challenges of navigation in an exclusively offroad environment. Competitors are handed a stark reminder that there’s still a third of the rally to go on this stage.

Stage 10: Chilecito to San Juan
Timed stage: 449km
Total distance: 751km

Any racers growing inpatient to attack should be advised that mistakes on this stage can lead to large time delays. With tiredness becoming an increasing factor, competitors must remain vigilant to navigational and mechanical mishaps that can ruin thousands of kilometres of good work up to this point.

Stage 11: San Juan to Rio Cuarto
Timed stage: 288km
Total distance: 754km

Timed stage: 292km
Total distance: 759km

Things will get very interesting very quickly on this stage, as the dunes of San Juan fall within the first 50km of the timed special section. Then comes a switch of pace as we enter the fast, sliding territory of the World Rally Championship’s home in Argentina.

Stage 12: Rio Cuarto to Buenos Aires
Timed stage: 64km
Total distance: 786km

Just like the opening stage (remember way back at the beginning?), the final day’s racing at the 2017 Dakar should prove to be short and sweet. Any racer crossing the finish line after the ordeal they’ve put themselves though is a hero in our eyes. Expect huge crowds in Buenos Aires to welcome home the offroaders who have got the better of this monumental challenge.

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