It’s a tricky time to be an event organizer. While most 2020 events were removed from the calendar and rescheduled in 2021, as things currently stand, organizers of early-year events are already shuffling things around, some even planning to reschedule for 2022. There’s one immutable event that will seemingly go on as planned, pandemic or not, and that’s the Dakar Rally. I suppose a rally in the middle of the desert is as socially distanced as anyone will ever be.
Organizers of the world’s most famous rally confirmed that the event is set to take place in January, 2021. They also unveiled the new route that reduces last year's 8,000-mile trek through Saudi Arabia to “only” 4,750 miles for 2021. They explain that there are fewer fast sections and that the new route focuses on technique and navigation skills instead.
The team announced the change of focus already back in March after the January, 2020, event cost two riders their life. The tragic passing of racers Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver pushed the event organizers to rethink the race and implement better safety measures.
In addition to improved safety regulations, Dakar organizers also stated that they are going to instore a strict protocol to protect competitors’ from COVID throughout the event.
“The preparation, and in particular the reconnaissance, had to be conducted according to a schedule adapted to the 2020 travel restrictions. The rally will be held under unusual conditions drafted in a protocol designed to ensure maximum protection against the spread of the Covid-19 virus,” they wrote in a press release.
Already 321 vehicles are entered in the 2021 rally, including 108 motorcycles. KTM will send Toby Price, Sam Sunderland, and Matthias Walkner with the Red Bull factory crew to try and get back on the top step of the podium. Team Orange’s 18 years of Dakar domination ended when Ricky Brabec with Honda took the title in 2020—a title he plans to defend in 2021.
Green technology enthusiasts should keep a close eye on racer number 127, Willy Jobbard who’s going to tackle the rally on a Garnati hydrogen hybrid bike.
The 2021 Dakar is going to take place from January 3 to the 15, 2021.