The Dakar Rally has earned the “world’s toughest motor race” nickname for good reasons. In its 44 years, the rally has tested the world’s best riders with the toughest terrain that Europe, Africa, South America, and the Middle East have to offer. However, competitors have been calling for a longer event with more stages, distance, and dunes in recent years. Dakar will answer those calls in 2023, with a grueling 14-stage route.
Prior to the rally's first official stage, the competitors will vie for the top starting spot in a short Prologue on December 31, 2022. The route will then send the riders from the shores of the Red Sea to the city of Dammam on Saudi Arabia's eastern coast. Running from January 1-15, 2023, the 14-stage rally includes three stages in the country’s brutal Empty Quarter. The race organizers haven’t released the full route distance yet, but each stage will range from 350km to 500km and cover 70 percent of new tracks.
New for 2023, each competitor will receive digital roadbooks to utilize throughout the duration of the race. The stage waypoint parameters will also undergo an overhaul to prevent the "forerunner" effect that plagued past events. Chasing riders have historically enjoyed the advantage of following the tracks of the leading rider, which puts the forerunner at a disadvantage. Organizers will assign different waypoints to riders in order to negate that strategy and even the playing field.
Registration for the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally will open on June 6, 2022, and close on October 31, 2022. Technical and administrative checks will run between November 28-30, 2022, and riders will arrive in Saudi Arabia on December 27-28, 2022. Since the Dakar Rally moved to the Middle East in 2020, we’ve seen two manufacturers (Honda and Gas Gas) and three different riders take the top step of the podium. If the updated route adds to that unpredictable nature, we can’t wait for the Dakar to return in 2023.