Dakar 2024: Paving the Way for the Future
The organisers of the Dakar Rally have extended a special invitation to competitors from France and Spain, beckoning them to the historic Château-Lastours. This exclusive gathering marked the commencement of registrations and unveiled the overarching plans for the 46th edition. Brace yourselves for a rally that promises fresh competitive challenges and cutting-edge technological elements.
The Dakar Rally's fifth iteration in Saudi Arabia will unfold from January 5 to 19, 2024, commencing in the time-honoured city of AlUla, traversing the vast expanse of the Empty Quarter, and culminating on the enchanting shores of Yanbu, nestled alongside the Red Sea.
Race director David Castera forewarns competitors that the forthcoming challenge will be as formidable as last January. Expect extensive stretches of rugged dunes, where intricate navigation will intertwine with the technical prowess required to conquer them.
Innovatively, a new stage format has been introduced – the "48H CHRONO STAGE." Participants will face a time constraint, halting at 4 p.m. only to resume their journey the following day at 7 a.m., all while completing the designated route.
As part of the Dakar Future program, the "Mission 1000" initiative presents manufacturers with a unique opportunity to field vehicles equipped with groundbreaking technologies in rugged terrain. Over a hundred kilometres each day, their performance will be assessed within this colossal testbed.
AlUla Camp returns, offering competitors a chance to immerse themselves in the ambience of millennia-old archaeological sites. The concept of the start camp, previously celebrated in coastal settings, has now ventured into the heart of the desert, with the bivouac located near the majestic Nabataean temples. It serves as the perfect prelude to the thousands of kilometres ahead.
Following a rigorous previous edition, the Dakar 2024 route will cover an equivalent distance of 5,000 kilometres, with 60% of the stages being entirely new. Nine bivouacs will be strategically placed across the vast expanse, creating a course that weaves its way from west to east, culminating triumphantly in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea.
Prepare for the "48H CHRONO STAGE," a two-day stage format that emulates the challenges of a marathon stage. Competitors can assist one another during the evening, but they will be dispersed across eight bivouacs. When the clock strikes 4 pm, all vehicles must cease their journey and seek the nearest bivouac. With no connectivity and thus no visibility into their rivals' performances, competitors will camp overnight, resuming their journey at 7 a.m. the next day to conquer the remaining segment of the route. The tally will be compiled after covering approximately 600 kilometres of special stages.
The vast desert expanse of the Empty Quarter will serve as the backdrop for the novel "48H CHRONO STAGE." The unique terrain allows for separate courses for motorbikes, quads, and cars and trucks, ensuring that top FIA teams won't benefit from the tracks left by the two-wheelers. Navigational prowess will be paramount, and the introduction of 'bonuses' for motorbike stage openers adds an extra layer of intrigue.
In its fourth act, the Dakar Classic pays homage to the era of pioneers and classic vehicles. Historic gems from the 1980s and 1990s, such as replicas of René Metge's and Jacky Ickx's Porsche 911s, Ari Vatanen's Peugeot 205, and Jan De Rooy's double-cab DAF truck, will once again grace the Dakar Classic tracks.
HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Motorsports Company, expressed his delight at Dakar, Saudi Arabia's return for its fifth consecutive year. He highlighted its significance as a prestigious rally showcasing Saudi Arabia's motorsports standing. The event epitomises the nation's commitment to sports development, tourism, and global leadership.
In the realm of innovation, the Dakar Future Mission 1000 initiative is set to push the boundaries of decarbonisation. Vehicles will embark on a daily journey of around 100 kilometres, diverging from the official route but mirroring its challenges. Only the most fuel-efficient energy sources, including hydrogen, 100% electric, and hybrid engines with minimal biofuel, will be part of Mission 1000. While there won't be winners or losers initially, participants will undergo rigorous testing, evaluating technical reliability, energy consumption, and carbon footprint under expert scrutiny.
These updates vividly depict the Dakar Rally's exciting journey in 2024.