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South American Dakar to start and end in Buenos Aires

Source: Reuters
By: Reporting by Damian Wroclavsky; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Alison Wildey

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The 2009 Dakar Rally will begin and end in Buenos Aires when it takes place outside of Africa for the first time next January, Argentina's president said on Tuesday.

The rally, which was cancelled this year because of security concerns, will spend 10 days in Argentina and five in Chile, crossing the Andes and covering 9,000 km in total from January 3 to 18.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez announced the route after a meeting with rally organisers and said hosting the race was "an honour for all Argentines and also for Chile".

Competitors will race through the Argentine Pampa plains, south toward Patagonia then climb back up the country crossing the mountains on the way to Chile, where they will rest one day in the seaside resort of Valparaiso.

The route continues north to the Atacama desert before returning to Argentina.

The race will retain the Dakar Rally name, local newspaper Clarin reported, quoting organisers.

The 2008 Dakar Rally was cancelled last month due to security concerns in Mauritania where four French tourists were killed in December. Race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation also said direct threats had been made against the event by terrorist organisations.

Previously, the rally, originally known as the Paris-Dakar had run through Africa every year since it began in 1979.

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