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Sebastien Loeb races during stage 10 of the Dakar Rally. (Red Bull photo)

Fifth Dakar Rally To Be Staged In Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Amaury Sporting Organization and the Saudi Motorsport Company – organizers of the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally – officially announced the brand-new route for the Dakar Rally.

Next year will mark the fifth consecutive time the Dakar Rally has been staged in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

1 Prologue, 12 Stages, 14 Days Of Racing

Held between January 5-19, the Dakar in Saudi Arabia will encompass a distance of 7,974 km over 12 stages, competing across the Kingdom’s challenging terrain, with 60% of the route covering completely new territory. The race will also mark the first round of the FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship season.

The iconic rally will kick off with the Prologue stage on January 5 at historical AlUla, home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hegra archaeological site features monumental tombs, sandstone outcrops, historic dwellings, and monuments – both natural and human-made – that hold 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history.

Competitors will then traverse approximately 5,000 kilometers of timed special stages across the vast and varied landscapes of Saudi Arabia, criss-crossing from West to East, via Al Henakiyah, Al Duwadimi as well as Al Salamiya and Al-Hofuf down to the Empty Quarter in the Eastern Province before changing direction back up North to Riyadh for the rest day on January 13.

The rally will resume on January 14 as the route weaves its way further north to Hail before returning to AlUla and ultimately finishing 14 days of unrivaled endurance racing and competition on the shores of the stunning Red Sea in the City of Yanbu. It is here that champions will be crowned in the different categories.

New Stage: The 48-Hours Chrono Stage

The organizers of the Dakar Rally also announced the introduction of the new 48-hour Chrono Stage where contenders will compete over the course of two days in the Empty Quarter with marathon stage restrictions. During this special period, there will be no choice of canteen or repair companions, as the drivers and crews will be spread out over eight different bivouacs. However, competitors will be permitted to help each other during the evening.

All vehicles will be required to stop at the next bivouac they come across when the clock strikes 4 p.m. There will be no connection and therefore no visibility of their opponents’ performance during this phase. Competitors will camp and start out again at 7 a.m. the following morning to complete the remaining section of the route. The tally will be counted after around 600 kilometers of the special stage.

Empty Quarter: Two Special Days

This editions’ Empty Quarter experience with the 48-hours Chrono Stage will be a unique adventure and a different challenge for the competitors compared to previous years.

Furthermore, the vast desert terrains of the Empty Quarter will feature two separate tracks, one for cars and trucks and another for motorbikes and quads, meaning that the top FIA teams won’t benefit from tracks created by the bikes and will have to navigate based on their talent. This will make successfully crossing this remarkable landscape more challenging than ever before.

Moreover, the system of bonuses awarded to motorbike stage openers introduced in the previous edition will be retained.