For the first time in its history, the Dakar Rally will take place in only one country next season. With Chile having dropped out of a potential return at the last minute, Peru will be the sole host-nation for the 2019 event.
The 2019 Dakar Rally will comprise 10 stages and a rest day, all within Peru, starting and ending in Lima, its capital city. The event will begin on January 6 and finish on January 17, 2019.
Rally organiser ASO had initially hoped for a route starting in Chile and ending in Ecuador, but was unable to reach an agreement with either country to join Peru. Talks were also held with Bolivia before it made a late decision to withdraw as well.
Rally director Etienne Lavigne is confident of a strong entry courtesy the beaches, dunes and Peruvian tracks, despite the lack of countries interested in hosting the Dakar.
"We know that we will attract the top drivers of this discipline because every year it is the highest level reference event," he told Autosport.
"We are going to build more technical and difficult stages because in this type of geography, of sand and dunes, we cannot develop 400km special stages. It's too difficult. We will have at least 70 per cent of stages of sand and dunes and that, in the history of the Dakar, is unique. The last few years, we did not have as much percentage of dunes."
Another change for 2019 is that competitors in the car and truck classes will be able to rejoin the action in the second week if they retire from the first week, but will have their own classification so they do not interfere with the starting order. This does not apply to bike and quad riders, however.