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ADV NewsDakar 2021 Big Changes and Route Details Confirmed

Dakar 2021 Big Changes and Route Details Confirmed

Improvements in safety and changes in navigation will frame the next Dakar.

Published on 11.27.2020

Next January, the world’s most gruelling rally is returning to Saudi Arabia with several major changes set to frame the coming chapter of the race. The 2021 Dakar odyssey will start January 3rd in Jeddah and take competitors through a completely new route. “The route we have prepared…reuses none of the tracks and dunes that featured in the specials last January,” confirmed race director, David Castera. 

The details of the 43rd edition of the Dakar were announced this week via a live presentation, confirming ASO’s focus on improving safety of the race. The 2021 course, which features all-new special stages, strives to reduce the length and amount of fast sections, while emphasizing driving technique, as well as crossing and navigation skills. A marathon stage will test the equipment management and endurance qualities of the competitors immediately following the rest day in Ha’il. “The characteristics of the route as well as the new regulations introduced aim to reduce average speed, further improve safety conditions and highlight the sporting qualities of the competitors,” says ASO.

2021 Dakar Rally route
The route of 7,646 kms will start and finish in Jeddah and includes 4,767 kms of special stages.

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In terms of navigation, roadbooks will be handed out just 20 minutes before the start of all stages. The 2020 Dakar edition implemented this rule for only a few stages – it will be a general rule now. This is intended to even the playing field making all riders rely on their own ability to read and interpret it on the fly. “I strongly agree with this…it’s fair for everybody.”  said Dakar champion, Ricky Brabec. The roadbook will also experience a quantum leap in usability with the introduction of a digital version.

New Safety Rules

Some of the big changes are aimed at increasing the safety of competitors to reduce the number of accidents at the race. The call for a change was raised after a high number of serious crashes in the 2020 rally, two of which resulted in the tragic deaths of riders Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver.

Castera stressed that the Dakar 2021 will see a more technical course with more varied terrain and fewer fast sections. Skill over raw speed will be the focus. 

Dakar rally rule changes

To increase safety, ASO is making airbag vests mandatory and subject to inspection during technical scrutineering. Riders will also receive audio warnings when approaching danger zones, and certain hazardous sectors will be categorized as “slow zones” where the speed limit will be set at 90 km/h.

Competitors will also need to be careful with how hard they push their machines. Tire limits will now be implemented, allowing only a total of 6 rear tire changes for the entire rally. “We won’t be able to go full gas every single day,” added Brabec. There will also be time penalties for piston changes even if the rest of the engine remains the same. Finally, riders will no longer be allowed to work on their motorcycles at refueling stations. These changes are intended to make riders more mindful of vehicle management and focus on strategy rather than speed. 

Ricky Brabec returns to defend the title
American Ricky Brabec and his Honda CRF450 Rally put an end to KTM’s 18-year winning streak in 2020 and will return with an all-star line-up of riders to defend the title.

Despite the difficulties associated with the health crisis, a strong field of competitors have answered the call, with 321 vehicles on the entry list. In addition to the 108 motorbikes, 21 quads, 124 cars and SSVs and 42 trucks expected at the start, 26 vehicles have been entered in a new “Dakar Classic” category, open to cars and trucks built prior to 2000.

The preparation and in particular the reconnaissance, had to be conducted according to a schedule adapted to the 2020 travel restrictions. Similarly, the rally will be held under unusual conditions drafted in a protocol designed to ensure maximum protection against the spread of the Covid-19 virus,” said Castera. 

Original by Motul: the culture of challenge

The ‘’malle moto’’ category, as the old-timers call it, is by far the toughest undertaking in the Dakar, requiring participants be completely autonomous, performing every necessary task, from tire changes to tent setup on their own. On a motorcycle or quad, 34 competitors will participate in the most demanding conditions, i.e. by looking after their machines themselves at the end of each stage. For them, the nights are short and the race is a daily struggle. Prepared for this task, they are, however, fully aware of the need to give priority to managing their equipment and riding conservatively. Yet these riders are no less competitive and are vying for a coveted title.

Dakar veteran Franco Picco will compete in the Dakar 2021 at age 65
Franco Picco, 65, will be racing without assistance in the Original class. Photo by Alessio Corradini

Romania’s Emanuel Gyenes is a three-time winner in the category and will be one of the men to watch, as will France’s Benjamin Melot and Portugal’s Mario Patrao, who makes his debut among the “Originals”. Another to keep an eye on will be veteran rider Franco Picco, who finished on the podium of the African Dakar three times (1985, 1988, 1989), as well as Willy Jobard, who will spice things up by trying his luck on a hydrogen-powered hybrid bike.

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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4 thoughts on “Dakar 2021 Big Changes and Route Details Confirmed

  1. Pingback: Dakar 2021 Big Changes and Route Details Confirmed - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. Pingback: Dakar 2021 Big Changes and Route Details Confirmed – ADV Pulse – Airb.ag – Airbag Latest News

  3. Lets see if Honda’s RB can hold-the-gold or wether Aussies Toby Price and Daniel Sanders will navigate their way to success?

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