Stage 1 - Saturday, January 3
Buenos Aires > Santa Rosa
Connection: 196 km | Special: 371 km | Connection: 166 km
Total: 733 km
Many have heard of La Pampa, where men are reputed to be "rough, but always courteous". This first stage will provide the opportunity to discover the length of these vast plains. Dakar competitors have never faced such a long special. With over 400 km of rolling routes, perhaps the fastest on the program, this will constitute a real warm-up. It will be the occasion for everyone to affront a long day that will get rid of all problems in adapting to jet lag.
Stage 2 - Sunday, January 4
Santa Rosa > Puerto Madryn
Connection: 0 km | Special: 237 km | Connection: 600 km
Total: 837 km
The longest stage of the rally will not necessarily be the most difficult. However, it should still be approached with vigilance and, above all, will a complete set of rally equipment. After a rapid first part of the special, a foretaste of sand will be proposed. On the off-roads of this stage, copilots will need to pay careful attention to their course. The more distracted will begin to "turn in circles".
Stage 3 - Monday, January 5
Puerto Madryn > Jacobacci
Connection: 70 km | Special: 616 km | Connection: 8 km
Total: 694 km
For the third day of the race, the special program is a tough one, ranging over 600 km. It will be a sign that the competitors have reached the heart of the matter, even though big problems are still to come. The entry into Patagonia, which will be accompanied by a significant change in terrain, will need new piloting abilities. The landscape is much hillier, and those who prefer long curves will find what they're looking for. Here, orientation is done using the lakes that border the route, around ten throughout the day, and numerous pink flamingoes will be the preferred guides for this stage.
Stage 4 - Tuesday, January 6
Jacobacci > Neuquen
Connection: 4 km | Special: 459 km | Connection: 25 km
Total: 488 km
At the start of this stage, the rocky passageways will make heavy demands on the arms of motorcyclists, while those who are accustomed to "wadis" will be obliged to negotiate the Argentinian "rios" with the same careful attention. Next, the first sandy portions and the long kilometers of off-road will thrill those who love driving them. Careful now! Mistakes can begin to be costly: the stage toward Neuquen has all the ingredients of a trap. By taking on more or less of a lead, the favorites can begin to show themselves and provide indications of a ranking that just might last.
Stage 5 - Wednesday, January 7
Neuquen > San Rafael
Connection: 173 km | Special: 506 km | Connection: 84 km
Total: 763 km
The major test of the first week of the race will perhaps be fought on the road to San Rafael. The long distance will oblige teams to remain concentrated at all times. The pilots will also be confronted with real dune passageways, including a range nearly twenty kilometers long. Long off-road stretches will alternate with much more technical sections in the track following the "rios". The Cordillera can be seen on the horizon, but taking time to sightsee is out of the question: a too-late arrival at the bivouac always leaves a mark.
Stage 6 - Thursday, January 8
San Rafael > Mendoza
Connection: 76 km | Special: 395 km | Connection: 154 km
Total: 625 km
The day's program is once again full of crossings, since the special begins with around sixty kilometers of dunes. The trail becomes easier in the second part, but competitors might well be slowed down by a wide ford that must be crossed with exceeding skill to avoid an extended bath. On arrival at Mendoza, the rally will penetrate the foothills of the Andes mountain range.
Stage 7 - Friday, January 9
Mendoza (ARG) > Valparaiso (CHL)
Connection: 80 km | Special: 419 km | Connection: 317 km
Total: 816 km
The variety of terrains and landscapes, a constant given for the Dakar 2009, is evident once again on this stage, where, in addition to a change of country, most of the competitors will get to know the Cordillera of the Andes. Before measuring themselves with the mountains, they must cross over a series of dunes and endure a session of fesh fesh, which is identical to Saharan sand, but which the inhabitants of the region call "guadal". Concerning the mountains, this will be the only special to include passageways at 3,000 meters on technical routes that will sometimes allow a glimpse of the Aconcagua, the highest point in the Andes (6,959 m). Then, competitors will cross the border on the link section to reach the sea at Valparaiso.
Stage 8 - Sunday, January 11
Valparaiso > La Serena
Connection: 245 km | Special: 294 km | Connection: 113 km
Total: 652 km
After a day of rest on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, an easier restart has been programmed. On mid-range mountain roads, driving hotshots should be able to really strut their stuff. The experts in car positioning, trajectory and sudden braking will show how it's done. But for the rally leaders, there is certainly more to be lost than won during this stage.
Stage 9 - Monday, January 12
La Serena > Copiapo
Connection: 88 km | Special: 449 km | Connection: 0 km
Total: 537 km
We are at the first step of a decisive trilogy. The reputation of the Atacama Desert, known as the world's driest, will be tested by the competitors. Those who hope to find dunes will be rewarded. But they will also be fed a generous helping of rocks. This stage is typical of the Dakar 2009, with numerous changes of terrain. The positioning of difficulties, with long stretches of dunes at the end, will require pilots to conserve their strength. They must show themselves to be both multi-talented and with a firm sense of how to manage their efforts.
Stage 10 - Tuesday, January 13
Copiapo > Copiapo
Connection: 20 km | Special: 666 km | Connection: 0 km
Total: 686 km
The day's special is simply the longest and most difficult of the rally. As on the previous day, the competitors will face a series of dunes at the end of the day that stretch over a hundred kilometers. And in this area, even the leading specialists will be faced with something new. The Chilean dunes are veritable mountains of sand, and pilots must learn to climb and descend their sides over more than one kilometer. Another unknown: due to the extreme heat of the region, no one knows exactly how the sand will behave. In any case, remaining clear-headed will be imperative all the way to the end.
Stage 11 - Wednesday, January 14
Copiapo > Fiambala
Connection: 20 km | Special: 215 km | Connection: 445 km
Total: 680 km
On this most majestic stage of the rally, the talents of copilots will be at the strategic center. In the morning, vehicles will leave the Pacific Ocean behind and head toward the border. In the meantime, it will be necessary to constantly choose which valley to take. The return to Argentina will be through the enchanting surroundings of the Paso San Francisco, at an altitude of nearly 4,700 meters. To close this long "day of colors", the link will lead competitors to a sandy landscape that resembles Mauritania. And if fate lends a hand, the rally could even experience a "Bolivian winter" there, a rare phenomenon that sometimes provokes snowfalls in the middle of summer!
Stage 12 - Thursday, January 15
Fiambala > La Rioja
Connection: 4 km | Special: 253 km | Connection: 261 km
Total: 518 km
As concerns crossings, the day's special is a concentrate of technique. Various types of dunes will be encountered, including the very formidable "white dunes". Just three days from arrival, this stage can scramble rankings, especially because the assistance vehicles will not have access to the Fiambala bivouac. The Golden Rule is still: "know how to economize your machine".
Stage 13 - Friday, January 16
La Rioja > Cordoba
Connection: 161 km | Special: 545 km | Connection: 47 km
Total: 753 km
After having swallowed thousands of kilometers, participants will face a first-class physical challenge in this next-to-the-last stage. State-of-the-art pilots must maintain their position, while amateurs must avoid an excess of confidence. Errors can leave bitter memories, since this will be the day of cacti. At the bivouac, doctors will no doubt be called on to wield the tweezers. Finally, for the experts of traditional rallies, certain routes are part of the patrimony of the World Cup that takes place every year in Cordoba. Here, aficionados will guarantee a large popular fiesta.
Stage 14 - Saturday, January 17
Cordoba > Buenos Aires
Connection: 224 km | Special: 227 km | Connection: 341 km
Total: 792 km
The adventure began on La Pampa. After having explored two veritable nation-continents, the competitors will find a more familiar type of landscape. On long, rolling routes, concentration remains necessary. Those who arrive with a ranking in Buenos Aires will have achieved the most impressive loop ever undertaken in rally-raid. And they will remain forever first.