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Four things to know about Dakar Rally 2022

Dakar

Bengaluru, December 22: With more than 1,000 people lining up to race nearly 7,500km across Saudi Arabian deserts, the 2022 Dakar Rally promises to be another epic rally-raid adventure over the sand dunes with a host of established global stars and talented young racers out to impress.

The 2022 Dakar Rallye departs from Hail on January 2 and finishes in Jeddah on January 14.

The field will try their hardest to complete all 13 stages from Jeddah to Ha'il and Riyadh then back again with a slew of fascinating stories set to play out across the respective vehicle categories.

For the records, Stephane Peterhansel is the defending Dakar champion. Thirty years after his maiden victory at the Dakar Rally, Peterhansel was on the top step of a star-studded podium again as he won the 2021 edition held in Saudi Arabia, beating the challenge of Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

We know for sure that the race will start on New Year's Day and there will be loads of sand for the huge parade of vehicles to conquer, nevertheless after that remains a mystery for now. It promises to be a fascinating journey into the unknown and, no matter what, it is going to be epic.

Ahead of the most-gruelling off-road races of all times, here are four things to look out for ahead of the 44th edition of the event.

All change in T1+ class

All change in T1+ class

This year, 4-wheel drive cars are allowed to upgrade to wider tyres, a wider chassis and more suspension travel with 2-wheel drive cars (buggies) retaining the ability to deflate/inflate their tyres from the cockpit to maximise efficiency and fuel consumption.

Both of the top teams are racing on new cars - leaving the potential for big shakeups in the leaderboard. Mini has won the last two Dakars, but Toyota's Al Attiyah suffered more than 80 punctures in those two races. Could it make the difference and help him claim his fourth Dakar victory?

New Audi RS Q e-tron

New Audi RS Q e-tron

The not-quite-electric, not-quite-combustion hybrid 671-HP Audi RS Q e-tron is a huge step in the research and development to bringing fully electric cars to the highest level of cross-country rallying with big buzz growing about its performance capability.

No matter what happens on the sand, it is sure to electrify Dakar fans worldwide - especially with two top-class drivers like Peterhansel and Sainz, backed up by multi-class talent Mattias Ekstrom in his second Dakar.

Young talent shines

Young talent shines

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team has come on leaps and bounds with young duo Seth Quintero and Mitch Guthrie Jr both excelling over the Dakar dunes. Californian Quintero became the youngest ever Dakar stage winner on the back of his six 2021 stage victories, while Guthrie Jr picked up UTV stage wins in 2020 so watch out for them to excel again.

On the bikes, keep an eye out for young American Mason Klein who has proven to be a good navigator and consistently fast finisher as well as his teammate Bradley Cox, whose father is Dakar legend Alfie Cox.

Navigation still key

Navigation still key

The risks get bigger every year as the talent pool gets deeper with organisers out to contain top speeds by keeping the roadbooks tight and tough, meaning navigation is crucial.

With these being delivered digitally, there is no chance to study and prep - it's quick reflex real-time racing.

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Story first published: Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 16:17 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 22, 2021