Dakar organisers unveil “toughest” Saudi Arabian route

The Dakar 2024 route. Image: Dakar Rally

The Dakar 2024 route. Image: Dakar Rally

Dakar Rally organisers have released the route for the 2024 event, which is being promised as the “toughest” since the move to Saudi Arabia.

The 46th Dakar Rally will start in AlUla on January 5 and finish in Yanbu, on the shores of the Red Sea, on January 19, after a journey across the country and back.

The route will total 7891km including 4727km of special stage running, across a prologue and 12 stages.

“We took it upon ourselves to make the fifth edition of Saudi Arabia the toughest one since the race came to the Middle East,” said rally director, David Castera.

As previously announced, the marathon leg of Dakar 24 will be a ’48-hour stage’ with competitors setting up camp in any of eight bivouacs.

While marathon stages are not new, the twist in next year’s is that competitors will not have visibility of rivals’ performances before they set off again.

A total of 354 vehicles have been entered in the event, including 137 motorbikes and 10 quads in the FIM half of the World Rally-Raid Championship.

The FIM has this year introduced new terminology for its classes, with 72 cars entered in ‘Ultimate’ (formerly T1 and T2), 42 cars in Challenger (T3), 36 SSVs (T4), and 46 Trucks.

Nasser Al-Attiyah will be attempting to win the Cars race with a fourth different make after defecting from Toyota, with which he took victory in 2019, 2022, and 2023, to Prodrive.

HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Company and Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, said, “I am thrilled to welcome the world’s best rally drivers to Saudi Arabia once again to take on the most prestigious and challenging endurance race on the planet.

“It is a source of immense pride for us to host this iconic event for the fifth consecutive time, a testament to the Kingdom’s ability to stage such major events and further confirmation of Saudi Arabia as a major motorsport hub in keeping with the objectives of Vision 2030.

“It gives me great pleasure that we can finally share the locations of the 12 stages, which will lead the contestants through new, untapped territory which showcases the Kingdom’s stunning natural beauty and variety.

“The route comes with real challenges and requires skillful navigation but I have no doubt that the competitors will relish every second of their experience.”

Dakar 2024 route

Prologue (Fri 5th Jan): Al-Ula – Al-Ula (157 km)
Stage 1 (Sat 6 th Jan): Al-Ula – Al Henakiyah (532 km)
Stage 2 (Sun 7 th Jan): Al Henakiyah – Al Duwadimi (662 km)
Stage 3 (Mon 8 th Jan): Al Duwadimi – Al Salamiya (733 km)
Stage 4 (Tues 9 th Jan): Al Salamiya – Al Hofuf (631 km)
Stage 5 (Wed 10 th Jan): Al Hofuf – Shubaytah (727 km)
Stage 6 (Thu 11 th  Jan): Shubaytah – Shubaytah (818 km)
Rest Day (Sat 13 th Jan): Riyadh
Stage 7 (Sun 14 th Jan): Riyadh – Al Duwadimi (873 km)
Stage 8 (Mon 15th Jan): Al Duwadimi – Ha’il (678 km)
Stage 9 (Tues 16 th Jan): Ha’il – Al-Ula (639 km)
Stage 10 (Wed 17 th Jan): Al-Ula – Al-Ula (609 km)
Stage 11 (Thurs 18 th Jan): Al-Ula – Yanbu (587 km)
Stage 12 (Fri 19 Jan): Yanbu – Yanbu (328 km)

Matthias Walkner on his KTM of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2023 between Shaybah and Empty Quarter Marathon, on January 12, 2023 in Empty Quarter Marathon, Saudi Arabia // DPPI / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202301120307 // Usage for editorial use only //

KTM rider Matthias Walkner surfs the dunes in Dakar 2023 Image: DPPI/Red Bull Content Pool

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