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ADV NewsDakar 2023 Will Be Tougher And Include Major Rule Changes

Dakar 2023 Will Be Tougher And Include Major Rule Changes

Longer, more challenging and with randomly assigned routes.

Published on 06.07.2022
The world’s most grueling rally is returning to Saudi Arabia with major changes set to frame the coming chapter of the race. According to the organizers, the 2023 Dakar revisions are in part a response to what fans have been asking for; “a longer, more difficult Dakar, with more kilometers and more dunes,” says race director, David Castera. The result? An even more challenging race with 14 punishing stages, higher risks for following other riders’ tracks and more rewards for stage openers.

More Stages, More Dunes

The upcoming odyssey will start December 31 and feature 14 stages plus a prologue for an even more taxing total of 15 days of competition. The route will take riders from the Red Sea to Dammam and will now run coast to coast without looping. Along the way, riders will have to endure a much deeper immersion in the desert, facing an ocean of dunes and a marathon stage during their three-day journey through the country’s unforgiving Empty Quarter.
2023 Dakar Rally Route

The Dakar 2023 will be the densest rally format in its modern era with the majority of the special stages covering close to 450 km (280 miles). Moreover, the liaison sectors will be shorter, with the finish lines closer to the bivouacs. In total, with almost 5,000 kilometers of special stages, this edition will feature the longest distance of competition since 2014.

Random Roadbooks: No Copying! 

Riders will not only face a longer, more punishing event but also run a higher risk of failure for not relying on their own navigation skills. New for 2023, the routes of most of the special stages will be split into two over a long section, with the roadbooks of A and B routes assigned randomly to riders. 

Dakar Rally route and rule changes

This overhaul to the navigation format seeks to put a stop to the common strategy of following the tracks of riders in front to find the waypoints, which gives the chasers an advantage during the stage. Now competitors tempted to follow the leaders, without doing their own navigation, run the risk of missing their waypoints and incur severe penalties. 


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Although this may sound like a good way to deter the practice, it remains to be seen if it will open the flood gates to complaints and anger from riders who might feel like they were assigned a harder roadbook compared to other competitors. Get your popcorn ready for some potential drama!

A Bonus For Opening A Stage

This is another change that seeks to put a stop to winning practices that don’t have the goal of finishing first in the stage. “The sequence of stages causes a yo-yo effect among the leading riders that can give credence to opportunist race strategies,” explain the organizers. 

Dakar Rally route and rule changes

Being the first to start a stage is the most vulnerable position of all since riders in the back can just chase the leader’s hard-earned tracks and gain valuable time going into the next day’s stage. As such, the stage victory can be perceived as a disadvantage to the point that some riders voluntarily forgo the win to avoid exposing themselves to an almost inevitable loss of time the following day. This year, time compensations will be awarded which seeks to even out the playing field and make winning a stage desirable every time.

A Digital Roadbook For Everyone

No more paper. For the past several years, “tablets” have appeared in the cars and then trucks before being tested by the elite category riders. The system has been thoroughly tested and is now ready to be used in all categories. All vehicles will be equipped with this digital version beginning this year.

The “Explorers” Rewarded

Journeyman riders will have a shot at a cash prize every day. According to the organizers “the respective means of the professionals and the amateurs provide additional encouragement to the latter, who will benefit each day from a separate classification and prize money. There will be a list of “Factory” drivers for each category based on the results in their rally-raid careers. “Explorers” will compete for valuable bonuses to enhance their improvement in the discipline: equipment, etc.” We’ll have to see if this extra money for amateurs makes the competition more fierce across the leaderboard. Hopefully camaraderie will remain intact.

Dakar Rally route and rule changes

The 45th edition of the Dakar Rally starts with a prologue on December 31, 2022 and runs through January 15th, 2023. This will be the fourth time the Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia, which will include 70% new tracks. We’ll report back as more details on the race unfold and you can go to dakar.com for more information.

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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