Dakar Rally releases 2021 Saudi Arabia route

Australia’s Toby Price finished third in 2020

The Dakar Rally has released the route for the 2021 edition, with Saudi Arabia hosting the gruelling event for the second year in succession.

Nearly 5000 competitive kilometres will be divided into 12 stages for the 2021 event, which will begin in Jeddah on January 3 before concluding in the same city on January 15.

The first stage running will be set by an 11-kilometre Prologue stage on January 2, with a rest day scheduled for January 9.

Of a total of 7646km, 4767km will be competitive. The longest stage of the rally will be Stage 4, which will be run between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Riyadh, with 337km of a total of 813km timed.

The penultimate stage, between Al-Ula and Yanbu, will feature 511 timed kilometres.

The running of the 2021 event had been clouded amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, 295 vehicles have been entered, albeit down on 342 in 2020.

The 2021 event will introduce the new ‘Dakar Classic’ division, which will see 26 entries of vehicles from before 2000.

“I cannot hide my delight at seeing that there will be more than 300 vehicles on the start line in Jeddah, almost as many as last year. It means our emotional bonds with the Dakar can overcome huge challenges,” rally director David Castera said.

“Relying on the unyielding support of all the stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, the ASO teams made the same show of determination as all these riders, drivers and co-drivers to organise the 43rd edition, make it happen and meet the competitors’ expectations.

“It is often said that being on the start line of the Dakar is a victory in itself. Come the 3rd of January, this maxim will be on everyone’s mind.”

Several measures have been introduced in line with strict COVID-19 protocol, with competitors to undergo a 48-hour quarantine upon arrival, as well as complying to social distancing measures in the bivouac.

With an eye on improved safety, an electronic road book for the Elite drivers in cars, trucks and SSV will also be introduced.

In the wake of the deaths of motorcycle riders Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver in the 2020 edition, all participants in the motorcycle and quad classes will wear a mandatory airbag vest.

“Loyalty goes hand in hand with trust. Dakar fans have placed their trust in us. They have made the choice to follow us. Not blindly, but fully aware of how we do things and our sense of responsibility,” Castera continued.

“In much the same way, our commitment to our core values has been our guiding light in preparing the 2021 Dakar. This is why we have taken new steps with a focus on navigation and safety.

“Our deeply held passion for nomadism spurs us on to continue exploring the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

“After all, the ability to stay on track is crucial to doing well in the Dakar and a timeless recipe for success.”

2021 Dakar Rally route

Stage Date Start Finish Total Special
P January 2 Jeddah Jeddah 11km 11km
1 January 3 Jeddah Bisha 622km 277km
2 January 4 Bisha Wadi Al Dawasir 685km 457km
3 January 5 Wadi Al Dawasir Wadi Al Dawasir 630km 403km
4 January 6 Wadi Al Dawasir Riyadh 813km 337km
5 January 7 Riyadh Buraydah 625km 419km
6 January 8 Buraydah Ha’il 655km 485km
7 January 10 Ha’il Sakaka 737km 471km
8 January 11 Sakaka Neom 709km 375km
9 January 12 Neom Neom 579km 465km
10 January 13 Neom AlUla 583km 342km
11 January 14 AlUla Yanbu 557km 511km
12 January 15 Yanbu Jeddah 452km 225km

Watch the 2021 Dakar route presentation HERE.

Carlos Sainz claimed overall honours in 2020

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