Hola Argentina !

Bye, bye, Paraguay. The first bivouac of the 2017 Dakar Rally is in Argentina, at the Autodromo de Resistencia. Every bivouac is of course different, but they all adhere to a similar structure. This is the place that participants will call home until January 14.

After travelling more than 400km across verdant lowlands bordering the Rio Paraguay, competitors arrived in Resistencia, in the north-west of Argentina – the first time that the Dakar has stopped off in this city.

The bivouac is located within the confines of a racing circuit several kilometres outside of the city centre, and entry is governed by strict ID checks. On safety grounds, the Dakar bivouac is off-limits to spectators, who consequently gather in their thousands at the entrance to catch a glimpse of competitors passing through. This occasionally makes gaining access a somewhat lengthy procedure...

The major reference point is the huge U-shaped tent which houses the canteen. It can accommodate up to 500 people at a time across 56 tables. Service is non-stop from breakfast through to dinner, meaning it is nearly always operational!

Next door are El Central and the Dakar Club, where participants can relax over a beer while analysing the standings and video footage from the day. It is here, every evening, that the official briefing takes place. Nearby is a stall serving famous Italian liqueur Fernet Branca – a popular drink throughout Argentina.

Another reference point is the BFGoodrich Dakar Service Center, where teams come for their tyres to be either changed or repaired following each day’s gruelling test. It remains open until 11pm.

At every bivouac, the local tourism department erects a stand exhibiting regional products, dance performances and music... In Resistencia, it is the province of El Chaco – part of the rally route for the first time – that is promoting its myriad attractions.

Within the bivouac, there is also a large area reserved for TV production, a Media Centre, Event HQ, medical facilities and, naturally, showers and toilets for those camping on-site.

The service crews are dotted throughout the bivouac, with the majority setting up on the sturdy circuit asphalt. On this occasion, Peugeot-Total and Mini X-Raid have both built their bases on the pit straight. On the Dakar, however, there are inevitably always times when people find themselves either wading through the mud or sinking into the sand...

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