Winners praise Dakar's new location
|By Matt Beer
||Sunday, January 18th 2009, 11:33 GMT
Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers and his second-placed Volkswagen teammate Mark Miller believe this year's new route in Argentina and Chile was a success, and hope the event returns there next season.
Safety concerns after terrorist threats forced the cancellation of last year's rally and led to the Dakar leaving its traditional African home for South America.
Although several stages had to be shortened - and one cancelled altogether - due to adverse conditions this year, de Villiers felt the new route was entirely worthy of the Dakar title.
"I think it was a proper Dakar," he said. "I think it was very difficult. At some points we heard it was too difficult, but I don't think it was too difficult, it was like a Dakar should be: hard. It was great.
"I think we can come back any time again. It's a proper Dakar, it's a proper test. The thing that makes it nice is all the support you get from the people, so I wouldn't mind coming back."
A crowd of over 500,000 people attended the ceremonial start in Buenos Aires a fortnight ago, and even more are expected for the official finish there later today.
Miller gave the new route his backing as well.
"For sure the rally stages were diverse," he said. "It didn't suit just one driving style - it wasn't just a rally driving style, it was all different types.
"I'm a much more all-round driver, so I think it suited me quite well and I'd be quite happy to come back."
Drivers further back also voiced their approval.
"It was a very nice rally for us, and I think it was a very interesting rally for the drivers," said Krzysztof Holowczyc, who finished fifth in an Overdrive Racing Nissan. "A lot of very hard stages, and some very technical, which I liked mostly."