Dakar Rally 2020 Preview: New Route, a New Country and New Rules

The Dakar Rally is going to have a whole new feel in 2020 thanks to another jump back across the pond, this time to Saudi Arabia.

The 2020 edition of the famous off-road race will start in Jeddah on January 5 and end after 12 gruelling stages later in Qiddiyah. A total of 5000 kms (3106 miles) of the race consists of “special stages” as they are known in the race, which just means off-road.

So far, 170 bikes and quads, 134 cars and side-by-sides and 47 trucks have entered the 2020 Dakar Rally, a total of 351 vehicles.

The Saudi sand dunes will be featured prominently in the race as you might expect, but a large amount of tracks running in every direction will make navigation an essential component during the first third of the race.

There’s new rules for the race this year as well, meant to close the gap between amateur racer and professional. New color-coded roadbooks will be handed out just minutes before the start on several stages to make sure no one is able to scout the course ahead.

A Super Marathon stage is also being introduced for motorcycles, allowing only 10 minutes of work on the machine during the stage, while the regular marathon stage for all vehicles, that takes assistance vehicles out of the race for a stage, will remain and take place the day before the race.

Dakar also wants to help the less experienced racers continue their learning process, so in the 2020 race, a “joker” will be granted to any competitor forced to retire. This will allow them to re-join the rally in the “Dakar Experience” classification and finish the race.

Among the total 557 competitors coming to the 2020 Dakar Rally, the French are still the best represented country with 258 people, followed by 77 from Spain and 53 from the Netherlands. The host country Saudi Arabia will have 18 riders represented in the race with Yazeed Al-Rahji in his Toyota Hilux carrying the highest hopes.

Watch the videos embedded below to get the official teaser for the race.