The Dakar Rally

Stage 10: Haradh > Shaybah

Wednesday, 11 January 2023
642 km (Liaison: 510 km + Special: 114 km)

Early news today is that, after the damage to his car proved too heavy to repair overnight, Carlos Sainz Snr. has withdrawn his Audi from the Dakar and will not resume the event.

Here we go. The realm of the dunes has been the focus of conversation for several months now. The Dakar entrants got a taste of the Empty Quarter three years ago, when the rally nibbled at the edges of the area. This year, the race is entering this vast expanse of sand for real over four days, starting with a dune-surfing warm-up stretching for 114 kilometres and containing almost nothing but toboggan runs.

After a long road section leading to this remote place near the border with the United Arab Emirates, it was an undulating terrain specialist who came out on top in the motorbike category. Ross Branch, aka the “Ferrari of the Kalahari”, set the best time, while Sébastien Loeb won the car stage, as he always does when he manages to avoid any mistakes.


Stage 11: Shaybah > Empty Quarter Marathon Bivouac

Thursday, 12 January 2023
427 km (Liaison: 153 km + Special: 274 km)

The Marathon Stage of Dakar is, essentially, one long stage run over two days, with a break inbetween. Competitors reaching the bivouac today are alone. There are no support crew or mechanics there to help them. They are allowed a one-hour period in which they can work on their vehicle themselves. The second half of the stage then continues tomorrow.

The much-awaited day of the plunge into the Empty Quarter has arrived. After running along the border with the United Arab Emirates yesterday, today it was the turn of the Sultanate of Oman from where the riders, drivers and crews found themselves a stone’s throw away on their way to the marathon camp, a bivouac without the assistance teams.

In this immense desert expanse, the rally’s competitors were offered 275 kilometres of special, with a wealth of dunes, naturally, but also gigantic chotts allowing the participants to try and hit the maximum authorised speed limits: 160 kmph for the bikes and 170 kmph for the cars.

Luciano Benavides was comfortable on both types of terrain and clearly demonstrated that he is among the men to keep an eye on in his category, something that was already well known as regards the inexhaustible Sébastien Loeb .


Stage 12: Empty Quarter Marathon > Shaybah

Friday, 13 January 2023
376 km (Liaison: 191 km + Special: 185 km)

The Empty Quarter continues to reveal its identity. The immense desert that plays host to most of the oil deposits exploited in Saudi Arabia is also a special playground for rally-raid riders and drivers to express themselves. The expanses of dunes discovered by the Dakar this year have few equivalents on the surface of the planet. However, the 185-km programme for the special was not restricted to the tricky exercise of overcoming the dunes, because when the route crossed the chotts it allowed the competitors to push the pace of their vehicles to the limits. It was certainly thanks to his technique acquired in the dunes of the Atacama Desert in Chile that Nacho Cornejo achieved the day’s victory on his bike. Sébastien Loeb, who put in another faultless performance among the mountains of sand made the difference thanks to his great strength: he goes for it like nobody else.

Five stage wins in a row :exploding_head: Loeb must be rueing his bad luck in the early stages. Only the second ever to achieve that stat. And still two more short stages to set a new record.

Saffer car teams still running strong in the Top 10. May not be enough Special stage distance left to push for a SA flag on the podium, but will still be a good result for them. There’s a few more ZAF tags further down the field too. And a good handful are also still running in the bikes classes.


Stage 13: Shaybah > Al-Hofuf

Saturday, 14 January 2023
675 km (Liaison: 521 km + Special: 154 km)

To pay tribute to the Empty Quarter and bid it a dignified farewell, the penultimate special was held to the south of Shaybah, in a vast and beautiful expanse of sand with chains of dunes as far as the eye can see.

Kevin Benavides leveraged his flair and adaptability to drag himself back into contention for the title in this final dune-surfing test, mixed with a return to gravel tracks at the end of the course, which set the stage for the most evenly matched dash to the line in Dakar history.

Sébastien Loeb, on the other hand, will have to settle for second overall despite showing his well-rounded skills with a whitewash of specials in the Empty Quarter, where he also smashed a record held by Ari Vatanen since 1989. Not bad.

The penultimate stage and Loeb makes it six in a row. A catastrophic stage for Brian Baragwantha though. His rollover accident and subsequent delay for repairs and the time penalty for not making the cutoff time for the bivouac means he falls from his consistent Top 10 all the way down to P74 overall. It can be cruel this rally.

1 Like

Stage 14: Al-Hofuf > Dammam

Sunday, 15 January 2023
417 km (Liaison: 281 km + Special: 136 km)

The Dakar has taken the field on a trip around the Red Sea coast several times, including at the beginning of the 2023 edition, which will come to a close on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. This is an unusually fast beach special with little to no room for big changes in the standings. The competitors just need to bring it home to join the celebrations on the seafront podium.

All eyes on the GP Bikes during todays final sprint stage. The start order on the final day is in reverse order of overall standings, so Price and Benavides will be the last two to leave the line. With just 12 seconds between them, it’s going to be close.

Follow the finishers as they arrive at the end.

Dakar Finishers Podium Live:

1 Like

Stage 14: Al-Hofuf > Dammam

Sunday, 15 January 2023
417 km (Liaison: 281 km + Special: 136 km)

The 45th edition of the Dakar has come to an end in Dammam after 14 stages that saw dramatic turnarounds in every category. Nasser Al Attiyah’s victorious campaign did not come as a surprise, but his first successful title defence earned him the fifth triumph of his career and the distinction of winning by the widest margin seen in the car race in 20 years. Second at 1 h 20, Sébastien Loeb bent the knee to the Qatari, but he also added his name to the Dakar record books with a string of six consecutive stage wins (seven in total).

The scenario that unfolded in the motorbike race was even crazier. In a first for the category, Kevin Benavides seized the lead on the very last day, knocking Toby Price from the top of the general standings to prevail by 43 seconds, the narrowest winning margin ever in the Dakar.

Similarly, in the SSVs, the youngest Dakar entrant ever benefited from a massive plot twist in the last stage, as the leader, Rokas Baciuška, surrendered the top spot to the 18-year-old Pole Eryk Goczał, who will share the podium with his father, Marek, in third place. A family that races together stays together.

In T3, victory went to Austin Jones, who had already brought the T4 trophy home last year, while the truck title went to Janus van Kasteren, the first Dutch winner of the race since Gerard de Rooy in 2016.

The winners and all the other competitors who showed their resolve to complete this gruelling route will be feted this evening at the podium ceremony in Ithra, at the cultural centre built by Aramco to mark the 75th anniversary of the company, which joined the Dakar as a major partner this year.

235 of the 355 vehicles that started the 2023 Dakar have made it to the finish: 80 motorbikes (out of 121), 10 quads (18), 46 T1 and T2 cars (67), 38 lightweight prototypes (47), 39 SSVs (45) and all 22 trucks, along with 80 out of 88 crews in the third edition of the Dakar Classic, the regularity race for 20th-century vehicles.

South Africans having a huge Dakar - in the cars, on the bikes, and even on the vehicle build side.


Some amazing shots there, great camera work.

1 Like

Red Bull Rally and Dakar Rally Official video highlighting the 2024 Dakar Rally Route.

Snapshot of the overall route:

Dakar is on! As ever, everyone is welcome to join a WhatsApp group I started some years ago, along with a photographer that has lots of inside news from the South African teams. I will repost here as I get a chance, but normally @GregRedd has brilliant coverage here anyway.

WhatsApp link: Приглашение в группу WhatsApp

Edit: no idea why the link formatted in Russian. Hopefully someone not on mobile can assist by fixing it.


Forgot to post this yesterday… :man_facepalming:t2:

As @Avatar mentioned, Dakar 2024 is upon us again. The 46th installment of the event will once again run entirely in Saudi Arabia


Following a demanding edition that revealed the competitors’ capacity for resistance, the tone of the Dakar 2024 will be just as respectful of their expectations in terms of a challenge. The route, which will cover an equivalent distance of 5, 000 kilometres, of special stages continues the exploration of Saudi territory, with 60% of all-new sections. A total of nine bivouacs will be set up on a large swathe running west-east, crisscrossing the route in both directions to a final finish in Yanbu, on the shores of the Red Sea.


This is a new stage format, contested over two days with the constraints of a marathon stage, although competitors are permitted to help each other during the evening. But this time, there will be no choice of canteen or repair companions, as the drivers and crews will be spread out over eight different bivouacs. When the clocks strike 4 pm, all vehicles will be required to stop at the next bivouac they come across. With no connection and therefore no visibility of their rivals’ performances, the competitors will camp and set off again at 7 am the following day to complete the remaining section of the route. The tally will be counted after around 600 kilometres of special stage.


The immense desert of the Empty Quarter will be the venue for the all-new 48-hour stage, with a special format that surpasses the time limit imposed on the first sequence. The terrain lends itself particularly well to two separate courses, one for motorbikes and quads and the other for cars and trucks. Therefore, the top FIA teams will not benefit from the tracks left by the two-wheelers and will have to navigate based on their talent. The system of ‘bonuses’ awarded to motorbike stage openers introduced in the previous

Stage Day & Date Location Total Distance Special Distance Stage News
P Fri, Jan 5 Alula > Alula 157 km 27 km Prologue
1 Sat, Jan 6 Alula > Al Henakiyah 541 km 414 km Stage 1
2 Sun, Jan 7 Al Henakiyah > Al Duwadimi 655 km 463 km Stage 2
3 Mon, Jan 8 Al Duwadimi > Al Salamiya 733 km 438 km Stage 3
4 Tue, Jan 9 Al Salamiya > Al-Hofuf 631 km 299 km Stage 4
5 Wed, Jan 10 Al-Hofuf > Shubaytah 645 km 118 km Stage 5
6 Thu, Jan 11 - Fri, Jan 12 Shubaytah > Shubaytah 781 km 572 km Super Stage 6
- Sat, Jan 13 Riyadh - - Rest Day
7 Sun, Jan 14 Riyadh > Al Duwadimi 873 km 483 km Stage 7
8 Mon, Jan 15 Al Duwadimi > Hail 678 km 458 km Stage 8
9 Tue, Jan 16 Hail > Alula 639 km 417 km Stage 9
10 Wed, Jan 17 Alula > Alula 612 km 371 km Stage 10
11 Thu, Jan 18 Alula > Yanbu 587 km 480 km Stage 11
12 Fri, Jan 19 Yanbu > Yanbu 328 km 175 km Stage 12

Dakar 2024’s entry list is one of the largest ever - 418 vehicles piloted and navigated by 585 competitors passed official scrutineering and will be allowed to take the start line for the Prologue.

418 race vehicles: 132 bikes (including 28 Original by Motul unassisted bikers) with 30 taking part in the W2RC, 10 quads, all participating in the W2RC, 70 cars in the Ultimate category including 22 taking part in the W2RC, 3 in the Stock class, 42 in the Challenger class, 12 of which are participating in the W2RC, 36 SSV including 12 W2RC participants, and 47 Trucks. There are 130 “rookies”, while 133 riders, drivers and co-pilots classed as “Legends” will take part for the 10th time or more. The field includes 27 women participants. As regards the number of nationalities represented, France dominates with 124 competitors, in front of Spain (84) and the Netherlands (62), the same top three nationalities as last year.

Each evening at the bivouac, they will be joined by the 78 vehicles taking part in the 4th edition of the Dakar Classic, which alone boasts a caravan of 170 competitors.

Finally, the Mission 1000 challenge, which offers alternatively powered vehicles the possibility of tackling the terrains encountered on the Dakar over more manageable distances, will concern 6 bikes, 4 cars and 1 truck.

In total, 585 competitors will take starters’ orders for the 46th edition of the Dakar.

The second season of the W2RC will start tomorrow with 86 vehicles participating.

South African participation in this year’s event is again high, with six South African competitors taking on the 2024 Dakar on motorbikes and a further six behind the wheel of Ultimate cars. In addition, Mzanzi is heavily involved with a number of the 2024 teams and vehicles.

Factoring in Toyota Gazoo Racing, Century, Red-lined and now M-Sport, which crafted the Ford T1+ machines, South Africa is the spiritual home of 30 cars or so, amounting to a third of the field. The rainbow nation’s rise to the top of the rally-raid scene is in no small part thanks to Alfie Cox and Giniel de Villiers, who have been bivouac regulars since 1998 and 2003, respectively.

1 Like

Oooh, errr… forgot to post the Prologue post yesterday as well, so… Double :man_facepalming:t2:

The 46th installment of the event will once again run entirely in Saudi Arabia, beginning with today’s short Prologue stage.

Prologue Stage

Much like a mini-shakedown stage, the Prologue is also used to determine the starting order for tomorrow’s Stage 1 proper. And while the short 27km stage seems straightforward on paper, it is a challenge that highlights a little of everything that the competitors will face over the next 2 weeks.

The name may seem misleading, with a prologue that turned out to have an extraordinary dimension, over a distance of 27 kilometres that was a condensed version, albeit a very accessible one, of the whole range of terrains encountered on the Dakar. The region of AlUla is ideal for such a sample, with sandy portions that were followed by rocky zones and even several navigational difficulties that led to several hesitations for some. However, the specialists in this inaugural exercise were again the ones to shine: Spaniard Tosha Schareina outdid all the other bikers for the opening of the last edition of the Rallye du Maroc, and Sweden’s Mattias Ekström was victorious in his Audi on the loop around the “Sea Camp” on the shores of the Red Sea last year on the Dakar.



1 Like

I have always loved the comradary and sportsmanship of the Dakar, truly a special rally.

Also check out the official Dakar YouTube channel for condensed daily updates.

1 Like

Stage 1

Saturday, 06 January
Liaison > 127 km - Special > 414 km

The tough, action-packed challenge of stage 1 sets the tone for the 2024 edition. Its course, drawn from scratch in an area with geological features never seen before in the Dakar, will throw the competitors in at the deep end. The field will snake around volcanoes in a palette of mineral hues filled with every shade of grey, from the dimmest to the brightest. Even at this early point in the race, this stage is difficult enough to open big gaps.

Overall Standings after Stage 1



A great start to Dakar 2024 for Michael Docherty. Until kilometer 323 that is:

Michael Docherty, who was leading the Rally 2 stage until km 318, took a tumble at km 323. He has hurt his hip and has been airlifted to Medina Hospital.

Stage 2

Sunday, 07 January
Liaison > 192 km - Special > 463 km

An XXL road section for an XXL special! 30 km or so of dunes await the field in the first part of the course. However, the lion’s share of this brand-new special takes place on fast stretches where fortune will favour the brave —but not the reckless. The Dakar will be veering into the realm of endurance. This is going to be a long day on the road to Al Duwadimi.

Stage wins for Peterhansel on four wheels (a record equally 50th Dakar Stage win!) and Cornejo on two wheels.

Stéphane Peterhansel romped home with the fastest time to scoop up his fiftieth career Dakar stage win. He is now the joint record holder for most stage wins together with Ari Vatanen. Monsieur Dakar kept Sébastien Loeb at bay and crossed the finish line with 29 seconds to spare.

Nacho Cornejo is the winner of the special. The Chilean opened the road together with Ricky Brabec and Ross Branch and played his cards right to pick up his seventh Dakar stage win, the first since stage 12 last year. Branch is still 2′30″ ahead of Cornejo at the top of the virtual overall.

The road to Al Duwadimi, which contained the first dune fields of this edition, set the riders and crews on a course to the geographical heart of Saudi Arabia. The dunes were not tough or numerous enough to shake up the standings; instead, the entrants had to put their navigational flair to good use to get out of one maze after another, in addition to marshalling their handling skills to overcome this 462 km long, globally fast special. Navigation happens to be the strong suit of Nacho Cornejo, who bagged his seventh career stage win, and Stéphane Peterhansel, who was once again off the charts with a performance that earned him his fiftieth car special!

Overall Standings after Stage 2



1 Like

Some amazing visuals.

1 Like

Stage 3

Monday, 08 January
Liaison > 295 km - Special > 438 km

The Dakar, which is continuing to explore the heart of Saudi Arabia, is taking great strides towards the desert of the Empty Quarter, with a leap of more than 600 kilometres today. However, before being totally immersed in sand, the riders, drivers and crews had to tackle a wide range of terrains, which were often conducive to navigation mistakes. The physical demands of this stage spared the sturdiest but also the calmest of the bikers, including Kevin Benavides who let his experience do the talking to triumph. On a day of surprises, Lucas Moraes also proved to be worthy of the challenge between dunes and canyons to pick up his first success on the Dakar.

The configuration of this third stage made another cull of the competitors likely. It was as severe as had been announced for a number of leading riders who proved to be in too much of a hurry. In the order of disappearance from the rankings, Sam Sunderland went first, betrayed by his machine’s mechanical problems after 11 kilometres of the special, followed by Sebastian Bühler , who fell severely after 360 km. In the meantime, a duo of openers came together at the forefront of the stage to lay down the tracks. Pablo Quintanilla and Nacho Cornejo , both team-mates with Monster Energy Honda, seemed set to make the day a Chilean festival. However, the victory that seemed promised to Quintanilla slipped from his grasp following the race stewards’ announcement of a series of speeding penalties. Due to going much too fast through a zone restricted to 30 kmph, Pablo received a 6-minute penalty.

The horizon of outright victory is just as far off in the car category, in which the beneficiaries on the previous stage experienced very contrasting days. Nasser Al Attiyah drove his Hunter like a boss, until a series of punctures calmed him down, forcing him to even complete the last thirty kilometres on a wheel rim from which the rear left tyre had been ripped off. The outcome was even more severe for Sébastien Loeb, who lost 23 minutes in the sharp stones. In this race requiring as much skill as speed, Lucas Moraes proved to be the most delicate with his tyres and won his first stage on the Dakar (see Performance of the day). He has put himself in a position ready to pounce, at the foot of the podium dominated for the first time by Yazeed Al Rajhi, followed 29 seconds behind by Carlos Sainz and then Mattias Ekström, 8’26’’ behind.

Overall Standings after Stage 3



Highlights Dakar Classic - Stage 3

Landscapes of the Day - Stage 3

Stage 4

Tuesday, 09 January
Liaison > 332 km - Special > 299 km - Total > 631 km

Yet another long, hard slog on the way to Al Hofuf, a city nestled in the heart of a sprawling, lush oasis dotted with three million date palms. The terrain is a bit faster and easier to make up for the length of the special and the fact that it is the second half of a marathon stage. However, it is also filled with navigation puzzles. Any blunder in this regard will definitely come with a hefty price tag.

The competitors will again be faced with a long journey to reach Al Hofuf. To make up for the length of this stage with timed assistance, the level of difficulty has been lowered a notch as regards the terrain, which will be conducive to opening the throttle. However, as with yesterday, the navigation will be very tricky. As a result, some riders, drivers and crews will be very likely to lose precious time or worse.

A new bonus points system has been adopted this year to lessen the handicap endured by the first rider out (and also the whole group with which he is riding if they are less than 15’’ behind). The bonus available is set at 1 second per kilometre and is applicable to all members of the leading group, per segment of the stage, but over virtually all the distance of the specials. Today, the openers can pick up 3’42’’ in bonuses.

Overall Standings after Stage 4



Nasser Al-Attiyah making the moves onto the podium spots with the aim of taking the Dakar title three in row… 11 minutes for the Qatari to make up on Al-Rajhi now. Good to see the De Villiers/Murphy and the Botherill/Cummings Toyotas creeping up the leaderboard too - now P11 and P12 on the Overall.

Ross Branch picks up a 1 minute penalty and slips out of 1st with 1:15 behind Cornejo. His 8 minutes of leadout bonuses working in his favour now.

1 Like

Stage 5

Wednesday, 10 January
Liaison > 527 km - Special > 118 km - Total > 645 km

The stage stats can be deceptive. There are two crucial factors to gauge the difficulty of today’s challenge. First, the long road section and the start at the crack of dawn, which are bound to take a toll on the riders and crews. Second, the plunge back into the sea of dunes of the Empty Quarter, where every kilometre in a special weighs two or three times as much. It is just sand, sand and more sand out there, with average speeds plummeting faster than a lead balloon. There will be a sparse crowd in the bivouac in Shubaytah by the time the sun goes down today.

Pablo Quintanilla crossed the finish line with the fastest time and claimed his seventh Dakar stage win. Coming the day after the eighth triumph of his teammate Nacho Cornejo, this is the second Chilean victory in a row. Cornejo also took stage 2, bringing the Chileans’ tally this year to three.

Nasser Al Attiyah is home and dry. The Qatari refrained from the strategic games of his rivals and set the fastest time of the day, almost 2 minutes ahead of Guerlain Chicherit. It is Al Attiyah’s first win behind the wheel of a Prodrive Hunter, bringing the number of constructors with which he has won at least one Dakar stage to 7. He is now level with the likes of Stéphane Peterhansel (who has 8 counting his career as a biker).

Tomorrow, the starting order for the Rally GP riders will be flipped on its head for the 48H Chrono. Today’s stage winner will set off from seventeenth position, assuming that all the Rally GP riders who started this morning are still in contention at the finish. Opening the road in the dunes of the Empty Quarter is no picnic, but there are bonuses to sweeten the deal for the first rider on the road. Specifically, there will be 1.5 seconds per kilometre in the second half of stage 6 and 1 second per kilometre in the remaining stages. Today’s results will be pivotal going into the fresh challenge introduced in the 46th Dakar.

Overall Standings after Stage 5



Ross Branch retakes the Overall Bike lead on his Hero 450, swapping his 1:15 deficit to Cornejo from yesterday to a 1:14 lead over the Chilean. Nasser takes his first stage win for the rally, and swaps P2 Overall with Sainz. He also eats 2 minutes out of Al Rajhi’s overall lead and is now just 9 minutes behind P1.

Today’s short Special is the precursor to tomorrow and Friday’s 48 Hour Chrono Marathon Stage. Over 570km of Special with competitors forced to spend the night in the middle of the Empty Quarter at one of six camp sites along the route. With no support, bare-bones camping, material and just enough provisions to make it through the night in the desert, the competitors will also have no connection to the outside world, so will only know about the rivals that are in the same camp. It should be hella interesting… and a little frightening!

1 Like

Stage 6 - Day 1

Thursday, 11 January
Liaison > 209 km - Special > 549 km - Total > 758 km

The big new feature of the Dakar is the 48-HR Chrono stage. As its name suggests, it will be contested over two days with the constraints of a marathon stage, although competitors will be allowed to help each other out in the evening. But this time, the riders, drivers and crews will be spread out over several different bivouacs.

This unprecedented challenge has the competitors quaking in their boots. While this is also a two-day stage, the experience of marathon stages will not be of much use in the new paradigm of the 48 h chrono stage. Imagine the grandiose clang of a bell filling the twilight air in the Empty Quarter, ordering every single competitor to halt their vehicle and spend the night under the starry skies before getting back on the move at sunrise. This is how this new challenge will work.

The time limit is 4 pm. When the clock strikes four, the entrants will have to stop at the next of the six rest areas that punctuate the course of the special (see the map). Once they get there, the competitors will receive bare-bones camping material and just enough provisions to make it through the night in the desert, without any connection and, therefore, without any information on how their rivals are doing. Cut off from the rest of the world.

Never before have the title contenders in the motorbike category spent eight hours in a special. The Empty Quarter, with dunes as far as the eye can see, will set the scene for this historic first. The race is no stranger to this area, but the difficulty of this larger-than-life special has been kicked up a notch. Chotts will give the competitors some time to breathe between one dune chain and the next.

However, the navigation will be fiendishly difficult, with hard-to-find courses and hidden WPs that will drive many entrants round the bend: “I won’t be winning any popularity contests”, sighs David Castera. In fact, his old brothers in arms in the car category will face the same challenge as the two-wheelers. The FIA and FIM entrants will follow separate courses, so the co-drivers will have to do without the motorbikes’ traces.

Overall Standings after Stage 6 - Day 1

As the Stage hasn’t finished, there’s only virtual rankings avaialble at the moment.


Time is up for the cars too It is 4 pm (local time) and the riders have been invited to head towards one of the seven bivouacs, the nearest one to where they are on the route. Nasser Al Attiyah, Mattias Ekström, Guerlain Chicherit, Martin Prokop, Giniel de Villiers and Carlos Sainz, the only drivers to have made it past point E, will stop their progress at rest point F after 476 km where they will spend the night.


It is 4 pm (local time) and the riders have been invited to head towards one of the seven bivouacs, the nearest one to where they are on the route. Luciano and Kevin Benavides, Nacho Cornejo, Adrien Van Beveren, Toby Price, Joan Barreda, Ross Branch, Ricky Brabec, Štefan Svitko, Daniel Sanders, Antonio Maio and Martin Michek, the only riders to have made it past point E, will stop their progress at rest point F after 513 km where they will spend the night.

1 Like