The Dakar seeks the limit

If you had three wishes, what would you ask for? The Dakar drivers were clear about it: difficulties, dunes and a longer rally, that has come true for this 45th edition of the race that will be held for the fourth consecutive year in Saudi Arabia. There is just one month left for the pilots to begin to find the limits of a test, in which cartographers have redrawn the world to give way to one of its most extreme editions. It will welcome at the same time that we will say goodbye to the year on December 31 and fifteen days later, the Persian Gulf will receive all those who have been able to endure a desert in which “there is no life”, beyond the one that furrows its sands.

As already anticipated, the initial camp will be established near Yanbu, north of Jeddah, with several peculiarities. It will be XXL, it will have petanque, a soccer field, table football and all the necessary accommodations to make a life in a group, which will give way to rivalry with the dispute of an 11 kilometer prologue which will begin behind that same bivouac, to end inside it. It will be the most strategic day of all and at the same time, the easiest before giving way to all those demands that will be found throughout the years. 4,706 kilometers that will be against the clock. The total distance will consist of 8,549 and compared to the previous edition, the test will have 500 more kilometers where trying to find a balance between speed and reliability will complicate the terrain.

The distance shows how the mileage will be longer than usual, especially in the first half of the race. There will be eight stages before reaching the rest day. Precisely the one before that eighth will be able to mark differences between the competitors, since it is about the longest of a whole tour (473 kilometers) that will have an average of 425 kilometers per day against the clock. It will be a hard first uninterrupted week with endless distances, which will be reduced from the day of break… but everything has its explanation.

Definitive route for the Dakar 2023

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Definitive route for the Dakar 2023

The return of the ‘Empty Quarter’

It has gone from being the great absentee to the great attraction of the edition. While in 2022 the Empty Quarter Due to its low viability within the program, ASO has worked to find a place for it in its agenda. And also at the most decisive moment of the rally. The final stage in which everyone will finish playing the game, the pilots will fully enter the Empty Quarter (Empty room). What will they find there? Dunes, dunes and more dunes during four days that they will have to furrow, attacking from the exact position to avoid giving up too much time in their traps. The speed will drop and therefore the kilometers, but The pressure will increase from some participants who, in this environment, will also compete in the marathon.

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It will be during stages 11 and 12, almost touching the final limit, which will have one last purely formal scenario in which complicated navigation and the most classic parts of a rally that will begin to be defined from the third stage will be abandoned. They will compete from the beginning, yes, but with the aim of not breaking the race from the opening day as happened in the car category just a year ago. That memory has made the demand grows once they have acclimatized to the terrain and also, given the possibility that a waypoint is confusing for most, this may be deleted to avoid repeating the mistakes of the previous course.

Another of the great sporting novelties that had already been heard, but had yet to define how it would arrive, is that which will reward those who decide to discover the terrain first-hand. Open track will have its reward for motorcycles in the form of a time that intends to compensate for the disadvantage of navigating without references. The driver who rides in the lead for the longest time until reaching the refueling point will be awarded 1.5 seconds for every kilometer ahead. The one who second him could receive a second for each kilometer in front and in case of having the third as leader before reaching approximately kilometer 200, the bonus will be 0.5 in the table.

That stop, which in addition to being a refueling point will from now on serve to gain time in the case of the leaders, will disappear for the cars. Previously they had already prohibited refueling, but they did have a pause to hydrate and rest that is forgotten with one goal: prevent them from regrouping. This measure will increase the physical demand of a route that in itself has already raised the level, after having been designed “to the extent of the great”. Now, all that remains is to know who will be the greatest of all.

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