Peruvian will be 1st Dakar driver with Down syndrome

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Among the more than 500 participants who have registered for Dakar 2019Peru’s Lucas Barron will make history as the first person with Down syndrome to compete in the toughest rally in the world.

“I’m nervous. It’s my first time I’m going to race the Dakar”, he told EFE with father Jacques Barron at his side. Lucas will be his dad’s co-pilot in the all-terrain utility vehicle (UTV) they hope will make it to the end of the 5.000 km race.

“My dad is a special person to me”, Lucas added. The young man has long dreamed of competing in the Dakar after seeing Jacques, now 55, ride the event five times on his motorcycle.

Dubbed Barron x2, the father-and-son team has experience on the dunes of the Peruvian desert, the stage for the 2019 Dakar, having raced in the 2017 Baja Inka and this year’s Inca Challenge.

The 2019 edition

 On January 7, 2019, 534 competitors piloting motorcycles, quads, cars, SxS vehicles, and trucks will begin the 5.000 km course from sea level to 5.000 meters elevation, over sand dunes and rock, including 3.000 kilometers of particularly intense special stages that will also subject participants to the extreme weather conditions found at dramatically different altitudes.

Uncharacteristically, this year’s Dakar will be held within the borders of one country-Peru-in response to the withdrawal from the race of neighboring countries Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia, a development that will reduce border complications and political contentions that have long-confronted past rallies.

Another addition to the race is the “half marathon”, a second chance class that draws from the cars, trucks and SxS’s that have pulled themselves out of the race during the opening half of the rally. This “parallel competition” starts up after the half-time rest day but as a separate classification with orange plates and no chance to be included within the top 25 starts.