The Dakar Rally is all set for 2021 as next year’s route and rule changes have recently been published.
Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizer of the rally revealed the new route that now starts and ends in Jedda. The event begins on January 3, 2021, will pause for a day on January 9, and continues until January 15.
Among the highlights of the new route are is a long stretch north along the shores of the Red Sea. There will be two loop stages to provide more technical sections and to give support crews a breather. Finally, there will also be a marathon stage to test teams’ physical and mental endurance, as well as their machines’ while managing strategic resources.
To improve safety without sacrificing technical difficulty, the organizers are introducing slow zone where speeds are limited to a maximum of 90 km/h. There will also be warnings that teams will be able to hear when approaching especially difficult or hazardous areas.
Many of the rule changes are for motorcycle entries. Riders will be required to wear airbag vests. Motorcycles will be limited to six rear tires with no sharing allowed even between competitors. Finally, motorcycles will not be allowed to work on the bikes during refueling stops. Penalties will be handed down for engine or piston changes.
Another new addition to 2021 will be the Dakar Classic division where vehicles that competed in the event before 2000 can now enter. This offers the public a chance to see many of the adventure bike predecessors run the same course.
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 is the event’s second year in the country.
Despite the current threat of the pandemic, the organizers believe the Dakar can push through next year.