A month after the start of the 45th edition of the Dakar rally, the fourth in the territory of Saudi Arabia, the organization presented its route in Paris: the legendary test will be longer and harder, with one more stage (15), 4,708 kilometers of specials and a total distance of 8,549 kilometres. It will start on December 31 along the Red Sea and end on January 15 in Dammam, along the Persian Gulf, after crossing the entire Arabian peninsula.
The third edition of the Dakar in Arabia will start from the north of Jeddah, in the camp near Yanbu, on December 31, with a prologue stage of 11 kilometers, on the shores of the Red Sea. After 15 stages, and a rest day in Ryad on January 9, the rally will end on January 15 in Dammam, in the east of the country, on the shores of the Persian Gulf. In total, there will be 8,549 km of travel, about 500 more than in 2022.
If the pilots asked for adventure and navigation, they will have it in the Dakar 2023, which will fully enter the Empty Quarter, the "empty room", as this eastern desert area of Arabia is called, lifeless, only with sand, dunes and dry lakes. It will be the most complicated part of the rally, in which navigation will prevail and the difficulty of driving will reduce speeds considerably.
According to the rally director (since 2020), David Castera, "there will be four days of dunes only in which the average speeds will not be more than 40 or 50 km/h, hence the stages are shorter... But not in duration because there will be days with four or five hours of racing," the Frenchman explained in the presentation. In this area of Arabia, the marathon stages (11 and 12) will be held, in which the pilots will not be able to use their technical assistance.
In order to foster competitiveness and reward the drivers who risk taking the initiative, the rally organization has established bonuses for those who open the track. But only in the motorcycle category.
The measure is introduced to compensate for the disadvantage of navigating without the tracks of previous vehicles. So the driver who leads the most kilometers to the refueling point will receive 1.5 seconds bonus for each kilometer he leads, the second one will get 1 second bonus and the third one, 0.5 seconds. Bonuses are only awarded in the first part of the stage, up to the refueling point.
In cars, the novelty of the sports regulations is that the participants will no longer have a mandatory stop to hydrate and rest. Thus, the cars will not regroup and will be unaware of the race situation.
Likewise, the ASO contemplates the possibility, if necessary, of deleting a waypoint that is confusing for a majority of participants, in order to avoid widespread losses due to errors in the road book that ruined the race for more than one, such as Carlos Sainz .