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ADV NewsDakar 2021: Slower Speeds, Airbags & Other Big Changes Announced

Dakar 2021: Slower Speeds, Airbags & Other Big Changes Announced

Skill over speed and other big changes will frame the next edition of Dakar.

Published on 06.12.2020

Next January, the world’s most grueling 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. 

In terms of navigation, roadbooks will be handed out just 10 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.

Dakar 2022 Saudi Arabia rule changes

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 this year’s 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 speed will be the focus. 

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.

Dakar 2022 Saudi Arabia new route
The next Dakar will see a completely new route, where skill over speed will be the focus.

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. 

Engine Power Reduction Postponed

Originally motorcycles were targeted for a power reduction in Dakar 2021, through the installation of air intake restrictors. The test period was set to start in June but several manufacturers voiced their opposition to such measure. As a compromise, engine development will be postponed until the end of next year and the power restriction will be introduced in the Dakar 2022 instead.

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Author: ADV Pulse Staff

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4 thoughts on “Dakar 2021: Slower Speeds, Airbags & Other Big Changes Announced

  1. Yes, for the safety measures, more skill sets than raw speed. Great idea about limited tires ….equipment management..YES.

  2. Pingback: Dakar 2021: Slower Speeds, Airbags & Other Big Changes Announced – ADV Pulse – – Airbag Latest News

  3. Great changes. Would love to also see more marathon and super-marathon (overnight parc feme) stages. It should be about the competitors and vehicle reliability, not whoever spends the most on mechanics.

  4. Pingback: Alpinestars Broadcasts New ‘Off-Highway’ Airbag System - My blog


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