This Is The Route For The 2021 Dakar Rally

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Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP (Getty Images)

‘Tis the season to start getting pumped about the Dakar Rally. The prologue kicks off on January 2, 2021 with the full rally beginning on January 3, after all—and now we have a route.

While the full list of routes is available via the Dakar Rally website, I’m going to share some of the big hits below.

Image for article titled This Is The Route For The 2021 Dakar Rally
Illustration: Dakar Rally
  • January 2: Prologue just outside Jeddah. Classification here determines the starting order.
  • January 3: Jeddah -> Bisha. This section is held on roads with stony sections and valleys.
  • January 4: Bisha -> Wadi Ad-Dawasir. Competitors take on the sand dunes and sandy tracks.
  • January 5: Wadi Ad-Dawasir -> Wadi Ad-Dawasir. Desert, desert, and more desert.
  • January 6: Wadi Ad-Dawasir -> Riyadh. The longest section of the race if you include the special section, and a transition stage between terrains.
  • January 7: Riyadh -> Buraydah. Challenging terrain types, from dunes to stones.
  • January 8: Buraydah -> Ha’il. Smooth sand and desert dunes compose this stage.
  • January 9: Rest day.
  • January 10: Ha’il -> Sakaka. A marathon stage composed of up-and-down mountains, stony plateaus, and winding sections.
  • January 11: Sakaka -> Neom. Sandy and stony tracks. Another marathon of a day.
  • January 12: Neom -> Neom. Variable conditions that start at the sea before diving into heavy sand.
  • January 13: Neom -> AlUla. Gorgeous landscapes with lots of hills and sand.
  • January 14: AlUla -> Yanbu. The longest special stage in the rally. Big ol’ dunes and empty stretches of sand.
  • January 15: Yanbu -> Jeddah. The final stage sees chains of dunes just before the finish line.

Overall, competitors will have traversed 4,767 miles by the time all is said and done. That’s a bit shorter than last year, but Dakar director David Castera told that the big goal was to provide a better balance between stages. There’s a lot of land out there to use, so they’re making use of it.

Other numbers of note:

  • 295 vehicles entered, the lowest since 1997 Dakar
  • 501 participants
  • 16 women, three more than last year
  • Highest-represented nationalities: France, Spain, and the Czech Republic

The full entry list is available here. You should be able to stream coverage on NBCSN.