The Dakar Rally saw an emotional beginning: More than one million enthusiastic spectators turned out to send the total of 430 participants of the desert classic off to the over 9,600-kilometre endurance test through Argentina and Chile on New Year’s Day.

Stars among the stars were the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 cars and their drivers Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Mark Miller and Giniel de Villiers. The Avenida 9 de Julio and the obelisk as part of Buenos Aires’ symbols provided the scene of the ceremonial start at which the entrants in the automobile, motorcycle, quad and truck classifications were frenetically cheered on by the crowd while moving across the starting ramp.

“The ceremonial start in Buenos Aires is always an experience that gives you goose bumps,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The large crowd with their inspiring cheers make for an emotional farewell for all participants and perfectly set the stage. Now it’s official: The ‘Dakar’ has started with the first stage. We’ve got two demanding weeks coming up now in which not only the Race Touareg but the entire squad have to prove their prowess every day.”

After the ceremonial start the first unclassified leg led from Buenos Aires to Victoria in a north-westerly direction before the first special stage to Córdoba – Argentina’s second-largest city – is on the agenda on 02 January.

Coming up …
Sunday, 02 January: The first special stage of the 2011 Dakar Rally caters to drift artists who feel particularly comfortable on the legs that resemble the World Rally Championship. The contenders can expect gravel roads, hilly, winding passages and quick stretches. However, caution is called for. Boulders alongside the route can easily damage the vehicles in case the drivers make a mistake.
The Dakar Rally on TV
02 January
01:32-02:00 hrs, Eurosport, “Dakar” Roadbook
18:45-19:05 hrs, RTL, RTL aktuell
20:15-20:45 hrs, Eurosport, Arrival at the finish, Leg 01, live
23:00-23:30 hrs, Eurosport, Highlights, Leg 01

03 January
01:00-01:30 hrs, Eurosport, Highlights, Leg 01 (rerun)
06:00-07:00 hrs, RTL, RTL Punkt 6
08:30-09:00 hrs, Eurosport, Highlights, Leg 01 (rerun)
11:00-11:30 hrs, Eurosport, Highlights, Leg 01 (rerun)
18:45-19:05 hrs, RTL, RTL aktuell
20:30-21:00 hrs, Eurosport, Arrival at the finish, Leg 02, live
23:00-23:30 hrs, Eurosport, Highlights, Leg 02