The Dakar Rally has been an independent competition since its inaugural edition in 1979. Contestants simply vied to finish the arduous off-road routes in the fastest time possible as opposed to earning points toward a world championship series. That will all come to an end in 2022.
The Dakar Rally’s promoter, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) have agreed to add the world-renowned rally to the 2022 Cross-Country World Championship. Until this point, the series included the Cross-Country World Cup and the Bajas World Cup. Now, the Dakar Rally will function as the first round of the new championship with the ASO acting as the sole promoter for the first five years.
"At a time when cross-country is undergoing a fundamental transformation, the creation of an FIA World Championship is an excellent news for the development of our discipline,” stated ASO CEO Yann Le Moenner. “As its exclusive promoter, ASO is proud to integrate the Dakar Rally into the FIA World Championship calendar, and will work to promote the events in order to better showcase the technical expertise of the car manufacturers taking part in these rallies in extreme conditions.”
The Cross-Country World Championship will also join , Formula E, WRC, WEC, Rallycross and karting under the FIA banner. While the first round is set in stone, the organization will add a maximum of four additional events to 2022 calendar in the coming months.
“I am delighted of the outcome of long and fruitful discussions with ASO, which becomes the promoter of the FIA World Rally Championship for cross-country rallying, with a calendar that includes the famous Dakar,” noted FIA President Jean Todt.
Despite the sealed deal on the automotive side, there’s no indication that the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme () will integrate the Dakar Rally into its Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The series currenlty includes six events held from June through November, 2021. With the Dakar Rally historically taking place in mid-January, it doesn’t seem like the timing would work for both parties.
However, that may change if the Dakar Rally’s inclusion in the 2022 FIA Cross-Country World Championship proves to be a success. After all, we never thought we’d see the day when the Dakar Rally joined a world championship, yet here we are.