The incredible 14-day Dakar Rally kicks off through South America Saturday and American off-road racer Bryce Menzies is finally getting to race it. Menzies wanted to race the Dakar last year, but was badly injured when a world record jump attempt went wrong. Now he’s there in an X-Raid Mini—one of Dakar’s best teams—and is the U.S.’ best hope for seeing an American win it all.
For those of you who don’t follow off-road racing as much, Menzies is a previous SCORE series champion (which is the series that includes the Baja 1000), a three-time Baja 500 winner, a three-time TORC Pro2 champion and a previous winner of both the Mint 400 and the Red Bull Frozen Rush—at age 27. With backing from the seemingly endless caffeine-fueled pocketbooks of Red Bull and a ride with the ultra-dominant X-Raid team, he’s America’s best chance in years to actually win Dakar.
Red Bull put together this insane video about Menzies’ road to the Dakar this year, and it’s as hardcore as you’d think. He went through three surgeries following his borked attempt at an even longer world record jump but still found time to do the Silk Way Rally—another one of the longest races in the world. Menzies later broke his wrist in Morocco, but wasn’t down for long.
Now that he’s back in racing shape, Menzies is America’s lone entry in Dakar’s cars class this year. While most “cars” look more like particularly rad off-road trucks, it’s insane most-followed class at Dakar that attracts the likes of two-time World Rally Championship winner Carlos Sainz and record-holding nine-time World Rally Championship winner Sébastien Loeb. Also returning to race a car this year is “Mr. Dakar” himself, the notably ruthless 13-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel.
Peugeot is dropping their Dakar program after this year, per Motorsport.com, which puts Sainz and Peterhansel’s future at Dakar up in the air. Both are older, and there’s some rumors of them retiring. Either way, Peugeot is one of the big teams to beat—and you know they want to have one last win.
You can’t call what Menzies and Peterhansel are racing trucks in a series where massive off-road racing rigs from Kamaz and Tatra are competing in the same series. Now those are trucks. Dakar attracts a little bit of everything, though, including motorcycles, side-by-sides and quads. Per the Dakar Rally’s official Twitter account, 540 vehicles in total showed up in Lima, Peru, for this year’s race.
This year, for its 40th running, the 14-stage Dakar Rally heads back to Peru for the first time in five years. We’re also hoping it’s drier than last year’s weather-shortened running. The Dakar Rally will post daily highlight reels here, and Red Bull TV also will post highlights up here. The Dakar website also usually has live timing to follow the race in real-time.
If you prefer to watch it on TV, NBC Sports will also be carrying highlights from the rally. While they never released a full schedule for those highlight shows, here’s what we could find on the schedule so far:
- Sunday, January 7: 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Monday, January 8: 11:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Tuesday, January 9: 5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Thursday, January 11: 1:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN
- Friday, January 12: 12:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN
- Saturday, January 13: 2:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Monday, January 15: 2:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Tuesday, January 16: 5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Wednesday, January 17: 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Thursday, January 18: 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Friday, January 19: 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- Saturday, January 20: 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
UPDATE 1/7: This post has been updated with NBC Sports’ full Dakar broadcast schedule.