Dakar Rally entry list: 351 vehicles are going to the Kingdom of Sand
The final route and the entry list for the 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally have been announced today. The rally will take part in Saudi Arabia and will start in Jeddah on 5 January. Twelve days later, the rally will finish in Qiddiyah near the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The rally route has an overall distance close to 7,900 kilometers, with over 5,000 kilometers of special stages. The official entry list for the 2020 Dakar includes 351 vehicles (seventeen more than in 2019): 170 bikes and quads, 134 cars and SSVs and 47 trucks.
The rally route was announced today at the Arab World Institute in Paris. In addition to discovering the Saudi Arabian dunes, which will be featured in the second half of the rally, the first half of the Dakar will take the crews through a labyrinth of tracks where navigation skills will be essential.
The first third of the rally will test the navigation skills of the riders and crews. The direction choices will be made more complicated by the multitude of tracks. Near the Red Sea or the Jordanian border for the stages around Neom then towards Al Ula, it will be the navigators who will lead the way. With more and more sand, the course will pose major challenges in the dunes between Ha’il and the capital Riyadh, where there will be a rest day.
The rally will continue and intensify with the discovery and exploration of the vast “Empty Quarter” desertic portion of the Saudi territory where the all-important Shubaytah and Haradh stages will be contested. The new winner will be known after the final Qiddiyah stage.
There are some new rules for 2020 Dakar with a goal to rebalance the parameters in favour of the less professional entries. New colour-coded roadbooks will be handed out just minutes prior to the start of the timed sector on several stages to precisely deprive the competitors with the biggest teams of a competitive advantage.
Similarly, the introduction of a “Super Marathon” stage for motorcycles and quads where only 10 minutes of work on the machines will be allowed, making vehicle management crucial, as well as the more traditional marathon stage (imposed on all vehicles) that will conclude the day before the finish.
In order to allow the less experienced to continue their learning process, a “joker” will be granted (in all categories) to competitors forced to retire. They will be permitted to re-join the rally in the “Dakar Experience” classification.
The number of 351 entries is a 5% increase from the start in the Peruvian capital of Lima last January. Among the 557 competitors entered, 53 nationalities are represented. The biggest is French delegation with 258 competitors, followed by 77 Spanish competitors and 53 from the Netherlands.
The most significant increase is from the host country Saudi Arabia that will be represented by 18 raiders (13 drivers/riders and 5 navigators). Among competitors, there will be 13 women.
Photo: Frederic LeFloch/DPPI, SeeSaudi, ASO/Vargiolu,