Dakar weekend stages altered due to flooding

Rain has already affected the route to this year's Dakar Rally


Dakar Rally organizers have made further tweaks to the 2023 route following the flooding of the Al Duwadimi bivouac this week.

Friday’s sixth stage of the rally, which was supposed to take crews from Ha’il to Al Duwadimi, has been reduced in length by around 100km as heavy rain meant it was impossible for the bivouac to service every competitor.

Instead, the crews will drive a 600km liaison to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh before making their way back towards Al-Duwadimi for a revised stage seven on Saturday.

Stage eight will then be contested from Al Duwadimi before heading back to Riyadh for the rest day.

In a statement, the ASO announced that both stage seven would become a “marathon mode” stage, with an assistance zone set up for crews to make necessary repairs in a two-hour time slot.

This is because the planned marathon stages – where no outside assistance is permitted and where cars are kept overnight in a secure parc fermé – are not set to feature on the Dakar until next week.

The statement read: “With the weather conditions preventing the installation of the bivouac at Al Duwadimi in complete operating conditions for the entire caravan, stages seven and eight have been rearranged in marathon mode in order to propose an equivalent sporting programme that is relevant for the competitors.

“Based on the initial route, the specials for stages seven and eight have been exchanged, with shortened distances making it possible to have a manageable link route on each of the days.

“For stage seven, which will take place on Saturday January 7 (Riyadh > Al Duwadimi), the special will take place over 333 kilometres. Since the competitors were not expecting a genuine marathon stage at this point in the race, an assistance zone will be set up after the finishing line of the special (via a 94-km link route), for a maximum time slot of two hours. “The riders, drivers and crews will then head towards Al Duwadimi (via a 240-link route) where their vehicles will be parked in a secure enclosure.

“Stage eight, on Sunday 8th January, will take the return journey to Riyadh, with the loop initially planned for stage seven on the programme, but shortened by 128 kilometres. The race against the clock will therefore take place over 345 kilometres and then the competitors will head to the bivouac in Riyadh.

“The rest day will take place at the site in Riyadh on Monday January 9 and the Dakar will then resume its initially planned schedule… in the sunshine!”

Words:Stephen Brunsdon