• Aussie pair Steve Riley and Trev Hanks will be competing together in the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Australians Steve Riley and Trev Hanks will be competing together in the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru and for the first time, a Holden Ute will be at the start line.
SBS Sport

21 Dec 2018 - 8:51 AM  UPDATED 21 Dec 2018 - 11:32 AM

The Dakar Rally was originally started by Thierry Sabine, a French motorbike racer, who was competing in the 1977 Abidjan-Nice Rally when he lost his way.

Realising that navigating the remote sand dunes of a desert posed quite a challenge, he organised the inaugural event that left Paris in December 1978. The multi-day stage race gets its name from the capital of Senegal, its original destination.

Riley, a former off-road motorcycle racer and three times auto winner of the Australian Safari Rally, will navigate the harsh Peruvian terrain along with co-driver and friend Hanks.

Highlights of the Dakar Rally 2019 will be available daily on SBS Viceland. Additional news and features will be online here at SBS Sport. Check your local guides for TV details.

The racing legacy of Peter Brock will also be felt in Peru with Riley regularly competing against the Australian motorsport legend at the Australian Safari Rally. The pair often talked about competing in the Dakar in a Holden but Brock's 2006 death ended that dream of co-operation.

The route for the 41st edition of the Dakar was revealed by rally organiser ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) following the last minute news that Chile and Argentina had dropped out as co-hosts, leaving Peru as the sole host, a first for the Dakar.

Running from 6-17 January, the Dakar features 10 competitive stages and rest days over 5,000 kilometres starting and finishing in the capital of Lima.

The Peruvian desert will be the canvas for Riley and Hanks in their quest for top honours, with over 70 per cent of the race run over dunes and sand. The demanding conditions will be made even harder with several stages held at altitude.

Extensive final testing of the Holden Ute was recently undertaken south of Perth at Bremer Bay on the Great Australian Bight in dune fields similar to what is expected in Peru.

"It was rough and tough testing but essential to familiarise ourselves with the car and hone driving skills for what will be a steady diet of sand dunes," Hanks said from the team workshop in Leongatha, South Gippsland, Victoria. "Learning how to read the sand and the dunes in the Peru deserts is paramount."

Riley is no stranger to long-distance extreme cross-country rallies, having competed in many national and international rallies both on motorcycles in the late 80s up to 2000 with Honda Australia, then making a successful transition to cross-country car racing with a Mitsubishi Pajero

He twice competed at Dakar as co-driver in the 2011 Cairns Coconut Race Team and again in 2013 with Isuzu Motorsports, finishing both times. But now he is keen to compete in Dakar 2019 with his own team and own car.

Riley has built the Holden Ute of his own design in his farm workshop on his dairy farm in Gippsland, Victoria and with the help of a crew of four mechanics and a service truck to carry out servicing and repairs as required, he hopes to finish the Dakar.