45th edition of the most prestigious and challenging endurance rally raid presents brand-new route through stunning Saudi Arabian landscape
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (November 22, 2022) -The 45th edition of the world-famous Dakar Rally will be returning to Saudi Arabia from December 31st, 2022, to January 15th, 2023, for the season-opening round of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.
In preparation for the event, organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and Promoter Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC), will be hosting The Official Dakar Rally Presentation online on December 1st at 11.30pm (GMT+1)/ 1.30pm (KSA time) to launch the specified Route for the Dakar Rally 2023.
Viewers will be able to attend the event by following the link on the Dakar Rally website, where they can learn all about the brand-new route the world’s toughest endurance race is taking through the Kingdom as well as the new sporting features for the 2023 edition and more information on all of this year’s participants.
Dakar Rally fans can expect two weeks of thrilling, non-stop adventure as the world’s most fearless endurance racers navigate their cars, trucks, bikes, and quads across Saudi Arabia’s magnificent desert, mountain, and coastal landscapes. This year will be the fourth successive year the event will be held in the Kingdom, with several significant sporting and technical changes - including a new route and sporting rules – confirmed by the event organisers.
This year, event organisers ASO announced, there will be a brand-new route that will see the challengers cross various terrains from the shores of the Red Sea in the west through to the sands of the Arabian Gulf in Dammam in the east. It will be made up of 14 stages and a prologue, making it the most stages to be held in the Saudi Arabian editions to date. It is believed each stage will cover distances of between 350km and 500km, with the average stage covering around 450km.
70% of the route will be completely new ground for the rally. It will start at the Sea Camp in Yambu before travelling east towards Alula and Ha’il where the drivers will take on two loop sections. The rally then begins its journey south stopping in Al Duwadimi for another loop before a well-deserved rest stop for all in Riyadh. Once recuperated, the journey will continue east towards Haradh before travelling south-east for the ultimate 3-day challenge: the Empty Quarter.
Once more, the iconic Empty Quarter will be returning, covering a vast landscape of challenging sand dunes in a desert the size of France. Within this area will be the marathon stage where competitors will be forbidden from receiving external assistance from their teams overnight – a section not for the faint-hearted.
Once the marathon stage is over, competitors will travel north along the Arabian Gulf coast, passing Shaybah and Al-Hofuf before reaching the final stage in Dammam.
In total, with almost 5,000 kilometres of special stages, this edition will feature the longest distance of competition since 2014.
The Dakar Classic will be returning for its third edition, showcasing historic and older vehicles (pre-21stcentury) as they take on their own Dakar route. This year, there will be a brand-new category, H0, added to define lower average speeds adapted for the less powerful cars offering fairer competition.
There will be two new challenges: 'Authentic Codriver Challenge' for vehicles that enter without modern regularity instruments; and 'Iconic Classic Club' for vehicles that originally participated in the Dakar in the 20th century.
Sporting Rule Changes
It’s also been announced there will a number of rule changes coming into effect this year including the introduction of the electronic roadbook being available for all participants and a new mirror route, splitting some sections into two (A and B) routes. The roadbooks of A and B routes are assigned randomly so competitors tempted to follow their predecessors run the risk of missing their waypoints and thus incur severe penalties.
Organisers have now announced a time bonus to those who open the stage in the bike category. Though the exact bonus advantage has yet to be announced, the idea of the rule change is to deter riders from voluntarily giving up position to win a stage due to the disadvantage of opening the following stage.
His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the Saudi Motorsport Company commented: “I am excited to welcome the world-famous Dakar Rally back to Saudi Arabia for the 2023
edition. With a brand-new route starting at the Red Sea Coast and running all the way through to Dammam, this year’s event will not only offer an action-packed few weeks of high-intensity rally racing but will also showcase our beautiful country’s stunning and varied landscape to a global audience as it travels across vast sand dunes and awe-inspiring mountain regions. I am personally looking forward to seeing participants navigate their way across the Empty Quarter – the ultimate challenge!
This really is an exciting time for Saudi Arabia and our growing family of motorsport fans as we prepare to host another stage of the world’s most challenging endurance race. I’m really excited to see what’s in store and can’t wait to share the experience with the world.”
Organised by ASO in conjunction with FIA and SMC (Saudi Motorsport Company) and other local authorities, the 45th running of the Dakar Rally will run to nearly 5000 km across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with stages that will include three loop stages and one marathon stage. The FIA World Rally-Raid Championship is the seventh motorsport discipline under FIA governance and will be promoted by ASO for a further four years.