Something that unfortunately has gone under our radar over the last few days has been the 2010 edition of the Dakar. For the second year in a row it is being held in South America over 9000 km of the world ‘s nastiest terrain from Argentina to Chile. It consists of 14 stages and takes place from January first to seventeenth. BMW is represented by four X3s as members of the teamBMW X-Raid . The X3 (CC)s used are heavily modified (to say the least) and are powered by a BMW 3 liter variable twin turbo diesel putting out around 286 hp and 425 lb-ft.

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP)France ‘s Stephane Peterhansel has kept his overall lead in the Dakar Rally, driving his BMW to second place in Tuesday ‘s fourth stage as the grueling race left Argentina and entered Chile.
Peterhansel, a nine-time Dakar Rally winner, was a second behind stage winner Robby Gordon of the United States. Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar was third.

Peterhansel was 7 1/2 minutes ahead of Spain ‘s Carlos Sainz of Volkswagen in the overall standings, and 10 minutes ahead of Al-Attiyah, also in a VW.

The stage took the racers across the Andes at about 13,000 feet and through the Atacama dunes, one of the driest places on Earth.

For a brief synopsis of the stagescompleted thus far read on after the break!

(from the Dakar site)

Stage 1 – Buenos Aires > Cordoba Friday 1 and Saturday 2 January

Cars / Trucks
Liaison : 349 km
Spéciale : 251 km
Liaison : 84 km
Total : 684 km

Going through Calamuchita

In the first days of the rally, overtaking is sometimes tricky. To make things easier between the bikers and the car and truck crews, a doubled course has been designed with just a few kilometres less for the riders. While the course will be separated, the program remains similar with tracks that will seduce the sliding specialists. In the car class, experts will have noticed a tribute to the Argentinean leg of WRC that usually goes through the Calamuchita Valley. The steering wheel virtuosos will be able to express themselves.

Stage 2 – Cordoba > La Rioja Sunday, January 3

Cars / Trucks
Liaison : 56 km
Spéciale : 355 km
Liaison : 276 km
Total : 687 km

Double sensation

Again to avoid tricky manoeuvres, bikes and quads will have, like on the previous day their own course. On the major part of the special, the motocross and enduro specialists will enjoy the blind jumps and series of fast bends. They will then have to take on a wilder environment: less sinuous but rockier. The drivers in cars and trucks will have to take good care of their brakes on a long descent at the middle of the special.

Stage 3 – La Rioja > Fiambala Monday, January 4

Liaison : 259 km
Spéciale : 182 km
Liaison : 0 km
Total : 441 km

The white pit

It ‘ll be on the third real day of racing that the competitors will have to deal with a first test. The change of context will be radical: with a switch from earth to sand and especially a dune portion of close to 30 kilometres. Other than their dimension that suits perfectly a first part of rally, these dunes are noticeable thanks to their white colour. In this new landscape, the crews will enjoy off-piste. They will also have to adapt to a change of climate and especially sand storms that are frequent in the area.

Stage 4 – Fiambala > Copiapo Tuesday, January 5

Liaison : 394 km
Spéciale : 203 km
Liaison : 32 km
Total : 629 km

Welcome to the Atacama

The organisers have made sure of taking good care of the competitors during this day that will first of all be used to cross the border. After a very early start, the crossing of the Andes Cordillera will be done during a liaison. At an altitude sometimes over 4000m, the shivers will be linked to the temperature as well as the beauty of landscapes. The descent, Chile side, will take the competitors to an absolute desert special. The rather short distance of this exercise will allow one to work on the last settings for a ‘sand ‘ configuration that the vehicles will keep during several days.