Competitors will swap the desert of Dakar for the
jungles of South America [EPA]
Argentina and Chile will host the 2009 edition of the Dakar Rally, which was cancelled this year because of fears of terrorism in Africa.

Organisers said the race will start in Buenos Aires on January 2 and finish in the Argentine capital on January 18.

The full route will be unveiled Tuesday in Argentina by Patrice Clerc, who heads the company that organises the rally.

This year marked the first time that the 30-year-old rally, one of the biggest competitions in automobile racing, was called off.

The threat of terrorist attacks pushed the element of risk to levels organisers deemed unacceptable.

The roughly 550 competitors were to have embarked on a 16-day, 9,270-kilometre trek through remote and hostile dunes and scrub from Portugal to Dakar, Senegal.

The race, once known as the Paris-Dakar, was cancelled following warnings from the French government about safety after the al-Qaeda-linked December 24 slaying of a family of French tourists in Mauritania.

Eight of the competition's 15 stages were to be held there.

Organisers vowed that the cancellation did not mean the end of the Dakar race.

Source: Agencies