Wednesday, January 9, 2008

South America aims to run Dakar through jungle and Andes - Feature

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Rio de Janeiro - The Amazonian rain forest and the Andes mountains could replace the African desert as South America is vying to stage the Dakar Rally. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are looking into the possibility of hosting the race later this year and there are also talks about a race through several South American countries and climate zones.
The 30th edition of the Dakar was called off on the eve of Saturday's start in Lisbon because of a terror threat in Mauretania, where most of the stages of the famed race were scheduled to take place before the traditional finish in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
There is alleged interest from Russia, China and Australia - and the South American options as well to stage the race next December.
"South America is not only the best but the only option," insisted Carlo de Gavardo of Chile on the website of the El Comercio daily.
De Gavardo is a former motorcycle rally World Cup winner and his father Giorgio is the Latin American representative in the Dakar Rally organizing team.
According to de Gavardo, a Dakar in South America could run through Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.
Such a race could cross the Andes Range, run through the Argentinian pampa, the Atacama Desert in Chile, pass Lake Titicaca in Peru and the Machu Picho Inka ruins in Bolivia and as well as the Amazonas rain forest in Brazil.
But there are also one-country bids.
"There are three or four options but Argentina is the favourite," David Ely, organizer of the Argentina rally which is part of the world championship, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Ely said he will hold talks with the French race organizers on Wednesday and expects a final decision by Tuesday of next week.
However, Brazil and Chile are also interested, with Santiago de Chile Tourist Board chief Oscar Santelices saying that his country offers security, stability, the necessary infrastructure and geographical variety.
In addition, private investors and the state are both working on the issue and Santelices said that support has been requested from sports authorities and the interior ministry. The backing by Head of State Michelle Bachelet is also expected.

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