Full steam ahead to Córdoba
They are thinking only of Córdoba! For the 337 vehicles expected at the start of the 40th edition, all the focus is directed towards the final finish line, which for the first time will be in the Argentinean motor racing capital. And those who were on hand at the presentation conference to hear Étienne Lavigne give them a few supplementary details have every intention of returning in a little more than a month. Among them, Kevin Benavides is a serious contender for top honours, when taking his first Dakar participation in 2016 into account (4th, one stage victory). The Salta native, who will race on home soil in attacking the Argentinean portion of the rally-route, is excited to be back after missing the rally last year due to injury. “It was strange not being at the start last year. But this year, I have gotten good results and I am full of confidence”. Considered to be one of the rally favourites in the bike category, Kevin Benavides will have his little brother Luciano by his side, but also Franco Caimi, who turned heads last year in finishing in 8th place.
But the country that has hosted the Dakar since 2009 has raiders capable of winning in all the categories. Truck racer, Fernando Villagra and car category stand out Orlando Terranova are the flag-bearers of the Argentinean contingent, which is the second largest among the nations competing in the Dakar. And the density of the legitimate challengers is even thicker in the quad category, where young Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday in a few days, will be a serious candidate for the overall victory. “I didn’t ride last year and it was frustrating. I am very motivated to return to the Dakar, and I know that it will be a great opportunity. I have worked a lot, and the odds are on my side, especially with the arrival in Córdoba, where my entire family will be waiting for me.”
The exhibition and events of the Feria Dakar bring together all of the rally’s enthusiasts, taking the spirit of the Dakar across the country, far beyond the stopover towns where the bivouacs are set up. The idea originated in Argentina during the 2017 edition; over 150,000 people attended the 13 Ferias organised during the rally.
- 14th January: Feria Dakar Salta
- 15th January: Feria Dakar Catamarca
- 16th January: Feria Dakar La Rioja
- 17th January: Feria Dakar San Juan
- 18th January: Feria Dakar Córdoba
- 19th-20th January: Feria Dakar Villa Carlos Paz