Route finalized for 2022 Dakar Rally

Over 400 competitors to feature on third successive edition in Saudi Arabia

Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, Jakub Przygoński and Timo Gottschalk

The final itinerary for the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia has been unveiled by the event’s organizer, the Amaury Sport Organisation.

In a virtual press conference, Dakar director David Castera and the ASO’s chief executive officer Yann Le Moënner presented the route for the third edition of the classic rally raid to be held in the Middle East, alongside HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia’s automobile and motorcycle federation.

As announced this summer, Dakar will revert to a point-to-point format in 2022, starting with a road order-setting Prologue in the northern city of Ha’il on January 2 before reaching its climax in Jeddah on January 14.

The 44th edition will cover 12 stages in total, with a return to the famous Empty Quarter in the south of the country – something Castera says will take the Dakar ‘back to the good old days’ – also on the itinerary.

The 2022 Dakar will also be the first event of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (WR-RC), with points awarded to competitors for each stage.


Speaking about the route, Castera said: “We have come up with a route with a lot of sand and dunes, that was our idea and a route which is 70% new. This will be the thread running through this 44th edition.”


The route

Following technical and administrative checks in Jeddah, the 2022 Dakar will begin in earnest with the first stage consisting of a 339.2-mile loop of Ha’il (207.5-miles of which will be timed) which will feature large sandy sections to offer competitors a challenge straight away.

Then it’s into the first Marathon Stage, a 363.5-mile test (210.6-miles of special) from Ha’il to Al Artawiyah which Castera says will introduce competitors to the dunes for the first time in the event.

Stage three will take the rally from Al Artawiyah to Al Qaisumah – the latter destination which featured on the 2021 edition – a route totaling 344.2-miles (228.6-miles of timed section) before a 288.9-mile fourth test which leads to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Screenshot 2021-11-28 at 10.19.33

Two loops around Riyadh follow, one to the southwest and another to the west of the city, with a mixture of rocks and dunes on the agenda.

From the rest day in Riyadh, the rally goes up north to Al Dawadimi for a 249.1-mile seventh stage which Castera says will demand ‘a lot of navigation’ from the crews.

Stage eight totals 244.8-miles and stretches from Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad-Dawasir, again featuring a lot of dunes.

A Wadi Ad-Dawasir loop then follows for stage nine before an easier, mainly track-based stage 10 to Bisha, where there will also be another loop for stage 11.

The final stretch to Jeddah will then be held on January 14, with a 101.2-mile navigational challenge all the way to the finish. The total mileage of the Dakar will be 5,203.9 miles.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel

Entry list

Defending winner Stéphane Peterhansel leads the 96-strong car entry list on his first competitive outing with Q Motorsport’s Audi factory-backed electric vehicle in the new T1+ category, alongside team-mates Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekström.

Toyota retains an unchanged driver line-up of three-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, Giniel de Villiers, Henk Lategan and Shameer Variawa in the upgraded GR DKR Hilux T1+, while experienced Dakar competitor Kuba Przygonski heads up X-raid Mini’s effort in the JCW buggy. Dennis Krotov and Sebastian Halpern will fill the other two X-raid buggies, while motorcycle veteran Laia Sanz makes her Dakar car debut in a Mini All4 Rally 4×4.

Speaking about the alternative energy solutions in the 2022 entry, Castera said: “We are shaping the future around energy transformation that matches with that of the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia].

“The Dakar Project future shares objectives with the FIA which will launch a new category dedicated to alternative energy targeting zero emissions in 2030. We are therefore particularly happy to welcome Audi and its hybrid motor solution for the next Dakar as well as Gaussin which will run the very first hydrogen solution.”


As well as Audi’s electric hybrid operation, alternative fuel will also play a big role in the 2022 edition, with both Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK Kompetition and Prodrive’s Bahrain Raid Xtreme running their cars with biofuel.

The latter will be led by nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb alongside new co-driver Fabian Lurquin, with Nani Roma and Orlando Terranova his team-mates.

FIA World Cup for Bajas Champion Yazeed Al Rajhi is a contender in his Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux. The Saudi, who won two stages on the 2021 edition, will pilot a new T1+ spec car, as will Dutchman Erik van Loon.

There will be two Century CR 6 prototypes, with SRT Racing’s Matthieu Serradori and Century Racing’s Brian Baragwanath returning, while the latter’s 2021 navigator Taye Perry will team up with five-time motorcycle winner Cyril Desprès in an PH Sport-run grandfathered Peugeot DKR 3008.

In the Lightweight Prototype class, recently crowned T3 World Cup winner – and X44 Extreme E driver – Cristína Gutierréz returns as part of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior team alongside Guillaume de Mevius and Americans Seth Quintero and Mitchell Guthrie.

Cristina Gutierrez and François Cazalet

In T4, 2021 Dakar victor Francisco López Contardo leads the entry, with World Cup winner Austin Jones also in the mix. XE points leader Molly Taylor will be making her Dakar Rally debut aboard a South Racing SSV.


2022 World Rally-Raid Championship calendar revealed

In addition to the Dakar route unveiling, the calendar for the inaugural WR-RC season was also announced on Sunday by the FIA.

Starting with the Dakar in January, the championship – which has evolved from the FIA’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – will then head east to Abu Dhabi for the Desert Challenge between March 5-10.

Round three wil be the Kazakhstan Rally, held across April 24-30, then Rally Andalucía in Spain follows on June 6-12, before a long gap to the season finale on Rallye du Maroc between October 6-10.

The Dakar organizer, the ASO, has been chosen as promoter of the WR-RC.