Countdown to 40th Dakar Rally: South America debut (VIDEO)

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As we count down to the 40th Dakar Rally, coming in January 2018 to NBCSN, here’s a quick video of the rally reborn after a one-year absence.

The Dakar Rally’s 30-year anniversary in 2009 saw the event reborn after a one-year cancellation in 2008. Due to security threats in Mauritania, the 2008 Dakar rally wasn’t held.

But in 2009, the rally resumed, albeit with a twist: For the first time, the rally was not held in Africa and Europe, but instead moved to South America, with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a run through Valparaiso, Chile for its rest day.

Giniel de Villiers won overall in cars in a Volkswagen, with Marc Coma taking the bikes win on a KTM. Coma has since won in bikes in 2011, 2014 and 2015, after also winning in 2006. De Villiers, the South African, took his only overall Dakar win this year.

The rally route regularly hits Argentina and finished there last year. It will also be part of this year’s route, which also encompasses Peru and Bolivia.

This will be the 10th Dakar Rally consecutive and in total held in South America.

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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