Ø For its 44th edition, which will run from 2-14 January, the Dakar will pay its third visit to Saudi Arabia. The rally will start in Ha’il and finish in Jeddah, after a rest day in Riyadh. With the route heading in a south-easterly direction, the organisers propose a sandier tone to the challenge. In the Empty Quarter, it’s “dunes galore”!
Ø The desire to take the discipline towards a virtuous operation in terms of carbon emissions will take concrete form from 2022 with the launch of a T1-E category reserved for prototypes engaged in this research. The end of the combustion engine era is planned for 2030 for cars.
Ø The popularity of vintage vehicles in the “Dakar Classic” regularity race has encouraged many enthusiasts of 1980′ and 90’s 4x4s to have a go in the adventure. The field could double in size at the start in Ha’il.
Ø During the Andalusia Rally, featuring some of the Dakar favourites, the contours of the 2022 edition and the debut of the registration period, which will begin on 17 May, were announced.
In 2020 the Dakar competitors and teams discovered Saudi Arabia. In 2021 they familiarised themselves with its territories in unique conditions, and in 2022 they will continue their exploration. A glance at the map of the country invites those who love wide-open spaces to go into the Empty Quarter. This immense desert is as big as France and extends over the entire south-eastern region of the country. It is the challenge that David Castera has set for himself. The idea is to emphasise negotiating the sand with, for example, three stages exclusively in the dunes! The weeding-out process will come down to the crews’ ability to tackle the dunes and off-road navigation. The drop in the average time should not be the result of a series of punctures that several competitors have suffered on some of the rocky stages.
In the continuity of the adjustments made to balance the playing field with navigation, the electronic roadbook will be generalisedto all crews in the car, SSV and truck categories. A version for motorbikes and quads will also be available for elite riders. Above all, the 2022 edition will mark the starting point of the plan to host a field of cars powered solely by alternative energies by 2030. The disappearance of combustion engines will take place according to a progressive timetable subject to technological developments. Initially, this will involve the opening of a T1-E category for low-carbon emission prototypes. Constructors are currently developing these cars to make them as competitive as possible, starting with Audi, which plans to take on the challenge beginning in 2022. Electric powered cars will soon take on the Empty Quarter.
For the second edition of the Dakar Classic, which caused a stir in the bivouacs, among television viewers and on social media last January, a few rule changes have been made. Regularity will no longer be the only evaluation criteria. On portions representing roughly 20% of the route, only navigation will be judged and not time, and each excess kilometre covered will cost points.