After the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally following terrorist threats, it appears that the route for 2009 will be completely new, moving continents from Africa to South America.
Autosport.com understands that ASO, the organisers of the event, have signed a deal with a promotion company in Argentina to have a fresh start, therefore distancing themselves to the terrorist problems that eventually stopped the 2008 edition earlier this month.
A return to the traditional January 1st start date looks to be on the cards, with the rally taking over the former Rally Raid World Cup event in Argentina, The Pampas Rally. The route looks to go to Chile and back.
Other routes that have been investigated include Dubai, but this may be too short. Paris-Beijing was favoured by Mitsubishi and KTM, but the conditions may be too cold for a January running.
Paris-Beijing is being run this year by former Dakar winner Rene Metge, but concerns of high costs reportedly were problematic. Australia has also been looked at too, but it seems Africa is out of the running for a while.
ASO had discussed running the event in 2008 just in Morocco, but intelligence ruled that out with terrorists close to the Mauritanian border.
It also has become apparent that the terrorist threats made directly to ASO following the murder of four French tourists near Nouakchott, Mauritania were specific towards the rally, and made by groups that intelligence sources say were heavily armed and organized.
With a bivouac at night of upwards of 1500 people, the consequences could have been unthinkable.
There was to be a bivouac in Nouakchott for two nights as it was to be the venue for the rest day, meaning that people would naturally wander off into the town from the bivouac, potentially putting themselves in danger.