With the intent of making the famed Dakar rally safer and fairer for all competitors, the FIM has tweaked the rules a bit by introducing time bonuses particularly for riders who open the stages—i.e., those who launch first. An article published by our friends over at MCNews.com.au highlights the details of this significant rule change.
Particularly, extensive scrutinizing of the 2022 Dakar Rally revealed that the first three riders are at a significant disadvantage when compared to those who launch later. As such, the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship and World Cups Committee decided to introduce a time bonus to award the 3 riders opening the track during a Selective Section. Furthermore, the time bonus scheme is applicable to all categories.
Getting into just a little more detail, the first rider to launch will get a Waypoint (WP) bonus of 1.5 seconds, multiplied by the distance traveled in kilometers since the previous WP Bonus. The number will then be rounded down to the nearest hundred meters. The same goes for the second and third riders, but their time bonus will be shorter at one second and 0.5 seconds respectively.
The time bonuses of the first three riders will automatically be credited at the scratch time at the finish line of the Selective Section, which will be used to determine the starting order the next day. Lastly, the time bonus will be rounded down to the whole second and displayed on the riders’ time cards.
Apart from adjustments to the rules and regulations of racing, tweaks have also been made to the safety and technical aspects. All riders are now recommended to run airbags, and must be present at the technical inspection where scrutineers will check that their gear is in working order. Furthermore, the number of spare cartridges will vary depending on the section, and will be detailed in the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship Supplementary Regulations.