Saudi Arabia has been given the responsibility to host the Dakar Rally once again. For the second time in a row, the competitors and crew will be able to explore the vast and beautiful deserts of the West Asian country. While the Dakar 2020 was a huge success, two riders lost their lives – Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver. So the rally organisers have implemented some key changes in the Dakar 2021 which will not only make the race more challenging but also safer.
Unlike before, in the Dakar 2021, the road books will be handed over to the participants in the morning right before the start of each special. Some categories will have digital road books. This will kind of equalise the level of competition across all categories as the participants will get no time for preparation beforehand. This new change will also ensure that the riders focus more on the navigation than speed.
In the Dakar 2021, all the participants in the bike and quad categories will have to wear airbag riding jackets. This has been made mandatory to increase the safety of the riders. Riding jackets with airbags aren’t new in the world of motorsports as they are already being used by MotoGP riders. They are additional safety equipment for the riders.
All the participants will get aural warnings as they approach the danger zones on the new route. Riders will hear a beep sound around 100-200m before such zones. Since riders get tired during the rally, they are likely to lose their focus every now and then. Or, perhaps, they are trying to navigate their way through the route and aren’t paying heed to the terrain ahead. The beep sound is also a great safety amendment because it will alert the riders about a possible risky terrain condition.
It has been announced that all the riders in the Dakar 2021 will be allowed only 6 rear tyre changes. This means that the riders will need to plan their moves strategically. They might need to even slow down in rocky terrain to save their rear tyres from degrading at a faster rate. This, in turn, is yet another safety measure taken by rally organisers to reduce the speed of the riders in Dakar 2021.
Another new rule for the Dakar 2021 is that riders will have less access to their machines. For example, during refuelling, they won’t be allowed to work on their motorcycles. They won’t be able to repair or mend their bikes during the stages. Also, the bike management team will be the same throughout the entire rally.
The Dakar 2021 has also been made more accessible. The race organisers have reduced the tariff for rookies in all the categories. So, it has become somewhat easier for new competitors to take part in the world-famous rally and fulfil their dreams.
These were some of the key changes that we will witness in the Dakar 2021 which is scheduled to commence from 3 to 15 January with Jeddah being the starting as well as the finishing location.