The 2022 Dakar Rally hopes to shake things up as the world’s toughest race heads further south into Saudi Arabia.
Ever since the Dakar Rally moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020, the most recent editions were focused on a tour of the Saudi deserts, showcasing the diversity of the country’s landscapes. The route traveled from canyons and cliffs in the Neom region to stretches of dunes surrounding Riyadh, passing by the Red Sea coastline sparkling with infinite shades of blue.
To provide a challenge to the competitors, the 2022 route will venture into the Empty Quarter, which is as sandy as it is mysterious. Surrounded by vast stretches of sand and dunes, off-road riders will be able to take advantage of the landscape, provided that they put their navigation skills to good use.
The new route was presented by race director, David Castera, who highlighted the new landscapes which had been located early in 2021 and stated that competitors could expect more sand and dunes in the coming edition of the rally.
The 2022 edition of the rally will begin on January 2, 2022 and conclude on January 14. The event will be held entirely on Saudi Arabian soil.
The Dakar 2022 scrutineering, prologue and race-start will all be held in Ha’il. The route will set off southbound, passing through Riyadh, where the scheduled rest day will occur. The race will conclude back in Jeddah, after having completed 12 gruelling stages, with navigation, sand and dunes featuring more heavily than in previous editions.
Among the highlights are two looping stages, three stages entirely in the dunes, where the Marathon Stage (without outside mechanical assistance) is also set to take place. Castera said 80% of the route will be raced over, as yet, unchartered territory.
Another technical feature will be the debut appearance of the electronic roadbook for the elite class riders, in addition to continuing with the obligatory use of airbags for all motorcycle participants.
Other notable dates announced were the presentation of the full route at the end of November; the day of vehicle embarkation from the port of Marseille in December and their collection on arrival in the port of Jeddah between December 26 and 28, where they will then head towards Ha’il where the technical and administrative checks are due to start on December 31 and January 1.
Dakar Rally history
The Dakar Rally is one of the most grueling off-road events in the world. The annual rally raid was started in 1978, beginning in Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal in Africa, from which the event got its name. Unfortunately, security threats in one of the countries along the route, Mauritania, forced the event to move to South America in 2009. It was moved to Saudi Arabia in the middle east in 2020. This will be the event’s third year in the country.