Apr 17 2013, 5:45am CDT | by Luigi Lugmayr
La Paz, April 17 — Bolivian President Evo Morales, along with the directors of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Dakar Rally, presented details of the 2014 off-road race that will traverse southwest Bolivia Jan 12-13.
At a press conference here Tuesday, Morales thanked the rally organisers for deciding to include Bolivia for the first time in the international competition. The race will offer the world an opportunity to appreciate Bolivia's geographical and cultural diversity, said Morales, reports Xinhua.
He added his government has guaranteed funds will be available to pay for race-related infrastructure improvements by declaring the rally to be a national priority. The event "is not just a competitive adventure involving motorised vehicles but also an adventure to guarantee the Dakar in Bolivia because it is a means to integrate us into the world," the president said.
Bolivia has unparalleled landscapes in its valleys, said Morales, but most of all in the regions that will host part of the rally circuit, such as the 10,000-square-kilometre Uyuni Salt Flats, home to the world's largest lithium reserve and an area Morales hopes to industrialise.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will run through Bolivia, when motorcycle and quad racers make their way through the Uyuni, in Bolivia's Potosi region, in two stages without mechanical assistance, ASO chief Etienne Lavigne said at the presentation. Lavigne said the two days of competition represent the "marathon" stage of the multiple-day endurance race, where competitors will have to go it alone.
"We are proud and pleased to be able to come next January to discover this country," said Lavigne.
The rally will begin Jan 5 in Rosario, Argentina, and conclude Jan 18 in Valparaiso, Chile. Only motorcycles and quads will race through Bolivia while cars and trucks will race directly from Argentina into Chile.
Lavigne predicted the Bolivian leg will become "the mythical" segment, the one "that best illustrates the values, courage, solidarity and tenacity" of the competitors.
"The greatest racers of the rally are in the motorcycle division and they are the real heroes of the Dakar," he added.
The legendary race is believed to be one of the world's most extreme competitions.
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