The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally is taking place right now in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. The event began on January 3rd and runs until January 15th, during which time the riders and drivers will cover hundreds of miles every day in some of the planet’s toughest conditions. This is the second time Saudi Arabia has hosted the Dakar, and as before, Motul is the main partner of the event. Let’s dive into 10 things you need to know about the 2021 Dakar.
For the 2021 rally, riders and drivers will cover 7,646 kilometres of which 4,767 kilometres will be timed. The course is divided across 12 stages, which the organisers say is 80-90% new for this year.
Running the Dakar in the middle of a pandemic calls for a few special measures. All competitors and teams had to quarantine for 48 hours upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. In addition, there are strict social distancing measures in the 2,400-person bivouac.
Electronic road book
A major new change for 2021 is an electronic road book. Each Elite driver in the cars, trucks and SSV categories will get a tablet with the route sent to it 10 minutes before the start for cars (and 20 minutes for bikes).
The Dakar Classic is a new parallel competition for vehicles produced before 2000. 26 vehicles joined the start line for the inaugural edition of the Dakar Classic, a regularity race for cars and trucks from the 1980s and 1990s, including a Porsche 959, a Toyota Celica, a Mitsubishi Pajero and a Renault 20. The Dakar Classic features a shorter route with easier terrain.
The Dakar is a dangerous event and over the years, competitors have, sadly, lost their lives. After two motorcycle riders died last year, the organisers have introduced airbag vests for everyone competing in the motorcycle and quad classes. There’s also been a series of measures to reduce speeds.
In another effort to make the rally safer, there are new “slow zones”, with speed limits capped at 90kph in particularly precarious sections. In addition, there will be audible warnings ahead of dangerous areas.
Among the many new regulations for the 2021 Dakar are new rules around tyres. For cars, no tyre changes will be allowed during the marathon stage. For motorbikes, they will only be allowed a total of six rear tyres for the whole rally.
Original by Motul rider Cesare Zacchetti is taking fans along for the ride during Dakar 2021. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cover 500 km in a single day, or traverse the dunes of Saudi Arabia, now you can. Cesare will be strapping on a camera and sharing his adventures on the tabUI app throughout the two-week event.
555 competitors, including 35 Original by Motul, in 321 vehicles (129 motorbikes and quads, 124 cars, T3 and SSV, 42 trucks and 26 Dakar Classics). This includes one female-only crew and 16 competing women drivers and riders.
Motul Racing Lab
At the Dakar bivouac, Motul’s experts will be on hand to provide daily oil analysis to all competitors, regardless of the oil brand they're running. An invaluable advice and technical lubricant know-how to ensure competitors’ vehicles make it to the end.
© Pictures: A.S.O. / FOTOP / Gustavo Epifanio / Julien Delfosse/ Victor Eleuterio / Antonin Vincent / Frédéric Le Floc'h / Charly López/ Florent Gooden/ Horacio Cabilla