2022 Dakar Rally ready to go! What changes will take effect in the 44th edition of the world’s most iconic race?

2022 Dakar Rally ready to go! What changes will take effect in the 44th edition of the world’s most iconic race?

2022 Dakar Rally is ready to go! What changes will take effect in the 44th edition of the world’s most iconic race? How will 2022 Dakar initiatives pave pathway for new era in Motorsport? And, most importantly who will top podiums as drivers, riders and Brand protagonists over the course of 12 long grueling days in the desert of Saudi Arabia?

2022 Dakar Rally The Route Image ASO

The highly significant change to re-direct trajectory of Rally has been the establishment of FIA-FIM World Championships consisting of 5 races: The Dakar Rally, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Rally Kazakhstan, Andalusia Rally and Rallye du Maroc. Under Dakar Rally’s promoters ASO, a total of 53 crews and 6 constructors have registered for the year long World Championship, setting remarkable milestone on moving Rally world into the future.

The Dakar Rally breaks precedent in number of areas, combining acknowledgment of historical race some 44 years ago with Dakar Classic category to initiating Dakar Future programme for the transition to renewable energy.

2022 Dakar hosts total of 144 participants in Dakar Classic for 2nd consecutive year inclusive of: 44 French crews, 37 Spanish, 18 Italian, pairs of Dutch and Belgium crews along with American Amy Lerner behind the wheel of Porsche 911. Vehicles dating between 1980 and 2000 will not only represent constructors whose Dakar Rally victories are upheld in the history books, but also account for the diversification these manufacturers have undergone over past decades.

Crunching numbers for 2022 Dakar Rally in Dakar Classic are: 4 Lady Niva’s, 3 Peugeot 504’s, 6 Range Rovers, 41 Toyota’s, 19 Mitsubishi, 12 Mercedes in Car category along with 8 in Truck category. Significantly, historical relevance of fuel powered vehicles prompts the development and commitment by Dakar Rally organization and constructors to the transition of alternatively powered vehicles to race.

Team Audi Sport RS Qe-tron hybrid 4×4 Image Team Audi Sport.

Ambitious projects have been undertaken by Team Audi Sport with 2 legends Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz. Trailblazing the E-revolution in racing, the first appearance of Team Audi Sport RS Qe-tron hybrid 4×4 will eclipse barriers preventing renewable vehicles racing The Dakar. Equally, the development of hydrogen powered vehicle Peugeot DKR 3008 with 2x Dakar Legend Cyril Despres at the helm, exemplifies the extent constructors are willing to action new technology in The Dakar.

If Dakar Rally Car category enables constructors to develop and refine technological performance of vehicles powered on alternative energy, Lightweight Prototype/SSV categories have shifted the previous off-mainstream race vehicle to one of cost effective T3 and T4 cars which can be replicated for use off-road.

With 100 Lightweight vehicles entered in 2022 Dakar Rally: 49 Lightweight Prototype, and 53 T4 SSV’s, there is little doubt the category offers constructors, drivers and co-pilots opportunities to showcase performances by Team crews on the most inhospitable terrain.¬†For certain, contenders for top honours in both categories will likely come from Red Bull Off Road Junior Team of 4 drivers, South Racing Can-Am and PH-Sport.

Delivering victory in 2022 Dakar Rally takes on additional meaning- not only emotional satisfaction for the athlete but equally consolidating the prestigious standing of the winning constructor amidst competitive global market. Bike manufacturers vie to succeed in The Dakar with high profile, high performance riders whose sheer grit and determination to cross the finish line meet the same grit and determination of Brands to build and develop the best bike.

Toby Price 2022 Dakar Rally shake-down Image Toby Price Racing.

For sure, the contest in Bike category remains as raw as ever. So much so, riders pitch their Dakar career surrounded by the best Team, on the best bike, backed by the best crew. Honda have achieved 2 straight victories with Ricky Brabec in 2020 and Kevin Benavides in 2021. KTM gained Kevin, entering 2022 with stupendous line-up of 7 riders split between Red Bull Factory Racing, Gas Gas Factory Racing and Rockstar Husqvarna Factory Racing.

If Monster Energy Honda Team have odds on for taking 3-peat win in the illustrious Bike category, you can bet the Austrian manufacturer’s riders will be fighting to end each and every Stage- all 12 of them- in front over the finish line. All of which sums up the true meaning of The Dakar- one family, one mission, one principle to uphold the integrity of the world’s most grueling yet rewarding race.

2022 Dakar Rally Prologue on January 1st at Ha’il, Saudi Arabia.

Header photo: World Championship Dakar Rally family photo. Image credit: ASO.

Words: Sharon Cox.


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