During the Rally Dakar 2021 Live presentation today, the ASO announced some key changes for the Dakar 2021. The rally will be held January 3-15, the start and finish being the city of Jeddah, with a loop taking competitors via Ha’il. “The route will be completely new – we won’t have a single kilometer that was used in 2020. Route possibilities in Saudi Arabia are truly incredible”, race director David Castera promised.
Some of the major changes will affect the safety of the competitors and the way they navigate. Throughout all stages, roadbooks will be delivered just before the start of the special, and the ASO is moving towards electronic roadbooks. Ricky Brabec and Toby Price both expressed their agreement with the change, saying this “will level the playing field for everyone”.
Castera stressed that navigation in 2021 will be more varied, more technical, and slower with dunes, slow sections, and fast sections alternating each day.
In terms of safety, Dakar 2021 is making airbags mandatory for car and truck drivers. For motorcycle riders, the ASO is adding extra audio alerts for Level 2 and 3 dangers: riders will now hear a beep two hundred meters before a Level 2-3 danger. There is also a new tire limit in place, only allowing 6 rear tire changes throughout the rally. This is said to encourage riders to spare their tires over more technical sections. “We won’t be going full-gas all the time any longer”, Ricky Brabec commented.
Support teams will not be allowed to work on motorcycles during refueling; this change is also aimed at encouraging riders to spare their bikes and engines and ride more strategically.
Another big change is the addition of the Dakar Classic category “to pay tribute to the privateers and amateurs and to put the spotlight on vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s in a test of consistency that honours the legend of the rally”.
Registration for Rally Dakar 2021 opens on the 15th of June.