Lima: A record number of 17 women will participate in this year's Dakar Rally, an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation, when the event gets underway in Peru next week.
The figure is three more than the previous high set last year, though it remains dwarfed by the number of male competitors, which will exceed 500 in 2019.
Spain leads the way with four women followed by Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Peru, with two each. Bolivia, France, Italy, Paraguay, and Russia will all have one female competitor each, reports Xinhua news agency.
The highest profile female entrant is Spanish cyclist Laia Sanz, who finished ninth in the category in 2015. She has completed each of the eight editions in which she has participated.
Others include Russia's Anastasiya Nifontova in the original motorcycle class and Spain's Cristina Gutierrez, who last year became the first Spanish woman to finish the car category.
The 5,000 km event, which will run from January 6 to 17, will begin and end in Peruvian capital Lima.