Now in its 41st edition, the legendary Dakar Rally – formerly the Paris-Dakar Rally – flags off in Lima, Peru, this weekend. Event organisers promise the 2019 Dakar Rally will be one of “unequalled intensity” with equal importance being placed on rider ability and vehicle reliability.

From the start in Lima, competitors in this year’s Dakar Rally will cover a total of 5,000 km over 10 days, of which 3,000 km will be timed special stages. The route will comprise of approximately 70% sand dune riding with navigation, endurance and ultimate speed playing key roles.

2018 Dakar Rally champion Austrian Matthias Walkner returns to defend his title with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, riding a KTM 450 Rally. Walkner comes fresh from runner-up wins at the Desafio Inka and Rallye du Maroc events and says, “there is a little bit of added pressure for me but my plan is exactly the same as always – stay safe and do my best at the event.”

Walkner’s team mates for the Dakar Rally include FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and Luciano Benavides. Also joining the Dakar Rally are female rider Laia Sanz, recently recovered from illness and Mario Patrao, who are both members of the KTM Factory Racing team.