O Dakar 2023 it is characterized by having more kilometers and more specials than the 2022 edition. In short: it will be harder and with a lot of sand. The race, which starts on December 31, 2022 and ends on January 15, 2023, has 820 participants and a total of 8,549 kilometers, of which 4,706 kilometers are timed.
THE 45th edition of the Dakar Rallythe premier off-road race in the world, is the toughest of the races held in Saudi Arabia, which hosts the competition for the fourth time.
In the presentation of the event, which featured David Castera, director of the race, it was known that the first week will be marked by the longest specials, some with more than 400 kilometers; while the second week will be dominated by the landscape of the dunes and where it is framed, a visit to the Empty Quarter, and a marathon stage between the 11th and 12th stages.
Among the novelties of the Dakar 2023 are some changes to the regulation, such as the elimination of mandatory 20-minute rest breaks in the middle of stages for motorcycle riders. There is also a bonus system for two-wheel stage winners, who until now had the obligation to open the track the next day, which hindered navigation.
Dakar 2023: 14 stages in 15 days
At phases of the 2023 Dakar are designed as follows:
- December 31, Prologue, Jeddah Sea Camp – Hail (10 km timed sector);
- 1 January (1st stage) Hail – Sea Camp (368 km);
- January 2 (2nd stage) Hail – Al Ula (431 km);
- January 3 (3rd stage) Al Ula – Hail (447 km);
- January 4 (4th stage) Al Qaisumah – Hail (425 km);
- January 5th (5th stage) Hail – Hail (375 km);
- January 6 (6th stage) Hail – Al Duwadimi, (466 km);
- January 7 (7th stage) Al Duwadimi – Al Duwadimi (473 km);
- January 8 (8th stage) Al Duwadimi – Riyadh (407 km);
- January 9 – Rest Day (Riyadh);
- January 10 (9th stage) Riyadh – Sau (439 km);
- January 11 (10th stage) Sau – Sau (114 km);
- January 12 (11th stage) Bisha – Sau (275 km);
- January 13 (12th stage) Sau – Sau (185 km);
- January 14 (13th stage) Sheybah – Al-Hofuf (154 km); January 15 (14th stage) Al-Hofuf – Dammam (136 km).
Top drivers and brands
On the 31st of December, the start of the Dakar 2023 will take place. The ceremony will take place in a mega-camp, the Sea Camp, on the Red Sea, created especially for this purpose, which will accommodate 455 vehicles and 820 participants🇧🇷
In cars, the starting favorite is Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota), who won the race in the previous edition and who has the experience of Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Giniel De Villiers in the team.
Even so, the driver from Qatar will have to be aware of the competition, especially Audi, which has an embassy of respected drivers to drive the brand new electric cars: Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Matgias Ekstrom. This set of pilots/machines will be an attraction throughout the race.
The four-wheel favorites are completed by Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive’s BRX Hunter), world runner-up, who aligns with Guerlain Chicherit and Orly Terranova.
On motorcycles, British rider Sam Sunderland (GasGas) is the favorite for the 2023 Dakar, after winning in 2022. But the task will not be easy for the Briton.
Competition is strong. From the outset, with the strong presence of the KTM team, with Kevin Benavides and Mathias Walkner in the lead. Honda, driven by Ruben Faria, will also have a say in the discussion for victory. The Japanese brand presents itself with the pilots Adrien van Beveren, Ricky Brabec and Pablo Quintanilla. Still on motorcycles, there is the presence of Husqvarna, which has the North American Skyler Howes as its spearhead.
In the trucks, everything will be more peaceful, without the presence of the Russians from Kamaz, and it will be interesting to follow the disputes that will arise between the pilots of the quads, SSV T3 or SSV T4, light vehicles that normally have very fast paces.
It should be noted that aside from the main event, the Dakar Classicaimed at vehicles used in editions prior to the year 2000. This race will be attended by around 100 vehicles from the 80s and 90s and this year has as patron the pilot Jacky Ickx, who won the Dakar in 1983.
Strong Portuguese presence at Dakar 2023
Portugal has a tradition of being present in the toughest off-road race and this 45th edition of the Dakar Rally has 17 Portuguese drivers.
On the bikes will be Rui Gonçalves (Sherco), Joaquim Rodrigues Jr. (Hero), António Maio (Yamaha), Mário Patrão (KTM), joined by the Portuguese-German Sebastian Buhler (Hero).
If on motorcycles the Portuguese presence includes well-known names, we will find others in cars. Although not behind the wheel, but as navigators, will be Paulo Fiúza (navigator of Lithuanian Vaidotas Zala, in Hunter) and José Marques (navigator of Lithuanian Gintas Petrus, in Chevrolet).
Then we will find a lot of Portuguese in the lightest vehicles: the SSV: Hélder Rodrigues/Gonçalo Reis (BRP Can-Am), João Ferreira/Filipe Palmeiro (Yamaha), Ricardo Mas/Augusto Sanz (Yamaha) and Paulo Oliveira (who races with Mozambican license e) which will have the Spanish Miguel Alberty (Can-Am Maverick) as co-pilot.
Still as navigator is Pedro Bianchi Prata who will accompany the Brazilian pilot Bruno Conti de Oliveira (BRP Can-Am) and Fausto Mota, who races with a Spanish license, but who is registered as navigator of the Brazilian pilot Cristiano Batista (BRP Can-Am).
Still on trucks, José Martins is registered as a driver in a Team Boucou Iveco. The navigator is the Frenchman Jeremie Gimbre and the mechanic the Frenchman Eric Simonin. Armando Loureiro will be co-pilot in a MAN, with the French pilot Sebastien Fargeas and the French mechanic Luc Fertin.
curiosities of Rally dakar
- Dakar. The first Paris-Dakar left on December 26, 1978. Of the 170 participants who left Paris, only 69 arrived in Dakar. The competition brings together at least 500 vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and trucks. The route changes every year (it has ranged from 8,500 to 15,000 kilometers). In 2003, the rally departed from Marseille, France, and passed through Spain, Tunisia and Libya until arriving in Sharm El Sheikh, on the banks of the Red River, in Egypt.
- Storm. Nowadays, a sandstorm that happens during the Dakar only means a few lost hours. But, in 1983, the first time the race was in the Ténéré region, in the Sahara desert, a sandstorm put some pilots in serious difficulties and caused them to be delayed by four days.
- Departure and arrival in Paris. The 1994 race was the only time the rally went to and from Paris. Due to a complaint from the maire de Paris, the arrival location was changed from Avenida Campos Elísios to the EuroDisney park.
- Hard proof. The 2020 edition of the Dakar brought together the most varied challenges that an off-road race can offer. From the largest desert in the world with giant dunes, through mountains to high-speed roads and trails with huge rocks. It had everything.
- Cancellation. The 2008 Dakar Rally was canceled on January 4, 2008, due to fears of terrorist attacks. This concern caused justified doubts about the future of the test. Several media outlets called the cancellation a “death knell” for the competition.
- Chile and Argentina. In 2009 it was the first time that the Dakar Rally took place in South American lands. That year’s event was held in Chile and Argentina, between January 3 and January 18, 2009. After this first South American edition, the rally’s costumes seemed to please most of the brands and drivers involved, not only because of safety , as well as the difficulty and diversity of the path, as well as the presence of the public throughout the stages.
- Duel. In 2011 there was an epic duel on the Dakar, starring Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz. In the race, the cars start between every three to five minutes, which makes it rare for the drivers to find themselves in a head-to-head. But, on stage 11 of that 2011 Dakar, Carlos Sainz and NasserAl-Attiyah drove side by side for about 5 kilometers, in a close fight. NasserAl-Attiyah was victorious in the stage and therefore won the Dakar that year.
- South America. In the 2019 race, a third of the competitors were from South American countries. For this reason, the organization of the Dakar rented a ship to transport the teams and their equipment from the mainland to Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi Arabia. After the difficulties felt by the organization to carry out the 2019 edition (due to the refusals of Chile and Argentina to pay the requested amounts), the ASO realized that the South American model was exhausted. Due to the impossibility of returning to the original route (due to the Africa Eco Race, created in 2009), three possibilities were put forward: Algeria, Angola/Namibia and Saudi Arabia. After analysis, on April 4, 2019 it was revealed that the Dakar would even take place from 2020 in Saudi Arabia, in an agreement lasting 5 years.
- The competition. The Dakar Rally is an endurance event off road🇧🇷 The terrain that the machines and pilots evolve is much more difficult than that used in conventional rallies. Used vehicles are off road🇧🇷 Most competitive special sections are off road, and pass through dunes, mud, and rocks, among other rough places. Distances for each section range from 800 to 900 kilometers per day.
The test, which starts on December 31, 2022, can be followed here🇧🇷