- 2022 route [Copyright: Dakar Rally]

Dakar releases full route for 2022 edition of Saudi Arabia event

The full route is out for 2022 Dakar Rally.

The organisers of Dakar Rally has shared the full route of 2022 edition which will take place in January in Saudi Arabia.

For its third edition in Saudi Arabia, the 2022 Dakar Rally, will kick-off on January 1 with the Prologue and finish off on January 14 in Jeddah - spread across 12 stages where they will run the first stage in two categories '1A and 1B'.

"As much as COVID-19 is said to interfere with taste, it has done nothing to dampen the appetite for adventure," said David Castera. "The Dakar entrants are already salivating at the thought of the 44th edition, the third to be held on Saudi soil. The main course on the menu is sand, a local speciality. Competitors will tuck into a hearty meal of dunes and tracks, served in tones ranging from ochre and saffron to golden brown with a dash of coral here and there.

"This exceptional backdrop will set the stage for a gathering worthy of the halcyon days of the Dakar, first in Jeddah and shortly afterwards in Ha’il, where the field will set out to tame the desert, take a break in Riyadh and head back towards the shores of the Red Sea. A get-together of this calibre was a must for what will be a watershed moment in the history of the Dakar and beyond, as the unfolding changes will have a ripple effect on the whole season: a double ambition inspires the organisers and stakeholders in the rally.

"For the first time, the Dakar will be part of the FIA and FIM world championships, headlining a sporting series that will keep the stakes high year-round. Even more importantly, rally raids, the quintessential sport for those who love the great outdoors, will achieve a milestone in its energy transition as the initial phase of the “Dakar Future” plan is rolled out.

"The constructors will now show their aspiration to get to grips with the challenge of extreme endurance out there on the tracks, banking on alternative engines that could well end up powering the cars of tomorrow. The Dakar is also a constellation of bold visionaries who move the world forward."

Here's the full route details:

STAGE 1A - JEDDAH > HA'IL:

Bang in the middle of two long liaisons, this 19km romp on dirt tracks and small dunes will give entrants the chance to test their vehicles and, even more importantly, will separate the wheat from the chaff to determine the starting order for the next stage. The results of the special will also give rise to a peculiar ceremony at the briefing in which the top 15 competitors in each category will get to choose, in reverse order in the standings, their starting position for special 1B… Expect to see some bluffing!

STAGE 1B - HA'IL > HA'IL:

The mountainous landscapes of northern Saudi Arabia contribute to the contrasts of the Dakar route. Sand is already on the menu, for now, in the shape of tracks. Be warned that this special is riddled with the fiendish navigation puzzles typical of the country. The focus will be on co-drivers, as any competitors who try to take shortcuts will be immediately slapped with time penalties.

STAGE 2 - HA'IL > AL ARTAWIYAH:

Lo and behold, the first chains of dunes in this edition, which will set the tone for the 2022 Dakar and provide the first opportunity for contenders for the overall title to move to the front. However, trying to blow up the race on the first day of a marathon stage is a risky proposition, as once the sun goes down, the riders, drivers and crews will only be able to count on the assistance of their peers inside the service park.

STAGE 3 - AL ARTAWIYAH > AL QAISUMAH:

The first part of the special dishes up a hearty serving of sand. While the faster second part seems easier from a technical point of view, the neverending intersections can cause the competitors to make mistakes and waste time performing U-turns and finding their bearings. Proper tyre management will be crucial to finishing the marathon without any nasty surprises.

STAGE 4 - AL QAISUMAH > RIYADH:

The Dakar heads south to the capital, Riyadh. The longest special in the rally throws everything but the kitchen sink at the entrants: a section of fast tracks almost 200km long, a central part with chains of dunes of varying sizes, and a rocky finish, especially when competitors have to cross one wadi after another. It will be one of the pièces de résistance of the first week

STAGE 5 - RIYADH > RIYADH:

The riders, drivers and crews will head to the east of Riyadh to tackle a special that marks an abrupt change in tone from the previous ones. The dirt tracks peppered with stones in the first part of the stage will put the bikers’ arms through the wringer, but they will have to keep something in the tank for the long dune section, stretching for almost 80km. Substantial gaps can be opened surfing the dunes in the finale.

STAGE 6 - RIYADH > RIYADH:

Wrapping up the first week of racing, the second loop stage around Riyadh will explore the west of Riyadh.Co-drivers will have to be on high alert to navigate the web of intersections in the first part of the special. Dunes make their first appearance halfway through the stage, where a sea of dunes about 40km long awaits. Whoever gains an advantage here will be able to press it home on the fast tracks in the finale.

STAGE 7 - RIYADH > AL DAWADIMI:

The Dakar will enter uncharted territory for the resumption of hostilities after the rest day. This journey of exploration begins with about 100 km of dunes in what seems a never-ending succession of ergs. After this intense dune-surfing exercise, the handling and driving get easier, but the maze of tracks could well push certain crews past their breaking points!

STAGE 8 - AL DAWADIMI > WADI AD-DAWASIR:

The long liaisons and sand-packed menu make this trek to southern Saudi Arabia one of those stages that drag on and on and on. The first 200 kilometres of the special will be nothing but sand and dunes as far as the eye cansee, as the competitors jump from one valley to another. Eventually, the landscapes will change at the end of the day… in the evening or at night, as many entrants will be delayed by the complexity of the stage.

STAGE 9 - WADI AD-DAWASIR > WADI AD-DAWASIR:

The loop around Wadi Ad-Dawasir will start later than usual to keep the stragglers from the previous day in the game. By this point in the rally, the endurance of competitors and their machines will have become a decisive factor. The presence of mountains, followed by the tracks that wind their way around the canyons, will require a different approach. Although there will be less sand, this stage is still a difficult one, not least because of the navigation.

STAGE 10 - WADI AD-DAWASIR > BISHA:

This special is particularly easy on the eyes. A rich tapestry of landscapes and colours will keep spectators in awe, while the competitors will have a blast in what will no doubt be one of the fastest specials in this edition. However, it is worth keeping in mind that haste makes waste, especially when it comes to navigating the myriad intersections that are the signature trait of Saudi routes.

STAGE 11 - BISHA > BISHA:

Nothing will be certain before the loop around Bisha, which has the potential to turn the race on its head. It will be the biggest technical challenge in the final part of the rally. The vehicles will spend about half of the stage on dunes of all shapes and sizes, including the softest ones that the desert has in store. It will be the last big fight!

STAGE 12 - BISHA > JEDDAH:

While the dunes are behind us, the majority of tracks in the closing special are still sandy. Practice makes perfect and, with all the experience gained since the start of the rally, everyone is poised to enjoy this one to the fullest. However, long liaisons await the field on its way to the Red Sea coast and the final podium on the Jeddah corniche.

Here's the competitors list thus far: www.dakar.com/en/competitors

[Image courtesy: Dakar Rally] [Note: Part of the story is from press release]

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