A record number of rookies and women will contest the 41st Dakar Rally in January which will be held in one country for the first time.
Chile, Argentina and Bolivia have pulled out of the event, leaving just the dunes and high altitude of Peru to tackle.
The rally will also be the shortest in history at 5000km with 3000km of 10 special stages with two rest days.
It all starts in Lima on January 7 with 534 competitors in 334 vehicles, 149 of them motorcycles, with a record 135 newcomers in 97 vehicles vying for rookie awards.
KTM is hoping for its 18th straight win with Aussie 2016 winner Toby Price (#3), 2017 victor Brit Sam Sunderland (#14) and incumbent champ Austrian Matthais Walkner (#1).
Honda’s team includes Kevin Benavides (#47), Paulo Gonçalves (#2) and Joan Barreda (#5) with Yamaha led by Adrien Van Beveren (#4) and Xavier De Soultrait (#18).
Aussie riders also include Queenslander Rodney Faggotter (#25) on his fifth Dakar mission after finishing 16th last year on his Yamaha.
Rookies and women
Other Aussies are Dakar rookies Victorian Ben Young (#72 Duust Rally Team) and Canberran James Ferguson (#121 KTM).
The largest female contingent since the Dakar moved to South America a decade ago includes 17 women.
There are two female riders: Laia Sanz (#17) in the factory KTM team and Spaniard Sara Garcia (#98) on a Yamaha.
A record 34 brave motorcycle and quad riders have chosen to enter unassisted in the “Original by Motul” class, previously known as the Malle Moto.
How to watch the rally
As usual, SBS TV in Australia will broadcast half-hour highlights free and in HD at 6pm from Tuesday, January 8-18.
Or you can stream live via SBS Sport and SBS On Demand.
Stage replay is also available on SBS VICELAND nightly from about 7pm.
Screening times may vary in your state, so check your local guide.