The full route for the 2023 Dakar Rally, featuring 14 stages and more competitive running than this year, has been released.
As previously announced, the contest will in fact start with the Prologue on New Year's Eve 2022 at the ‘Sea Camp' on Saudi Arabia's west coast and finish at Dammam on January 15.
Now, it has been advised that the route will total 8549km, with 4706km of that being timed, special stage running, a figure which is up on last year but down slightly on what organisers had indicated six months ago.
The shape of the route is, however, quite different to that of 2022.
Rather than a loop back to Jeddah, competitors will gradually venture from one coast to another.
Stages around AlUla, Ha'il, or Riyadh should be somewhat familiar, but four days in the Empty Quarter is a new proposition.
Also of note is that the ‘marathon stage' will be held towards the end of the rally, on Stages 11 and 12.
“At 14 full stages and a prologue, the loud call for a longer, tougher Dakar has been heard,” said Race Director David Castera.
“It follows on from our desire to go back to basics and make sure our rally is a unique challenge of extreme endurance.
“By kicking it up a notch on every front, from handling skills and keeping the mechanics in one piece to navigation and physical endurance, the 2023 Dakar will also set the tone for the second season of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.”
Said World Rally-Raid Championship, the inaugural edition of which was held this year, is in fact a joint FIA and FIM competition.
GasGas rider Sam Sunderland took the 2022 crown on two wheels after also delivering the Spanish marque its first Dakar event win back in January.
In the FIA contest, Nasser Al-Attiyah similarly achieved the double for Toyota Gazoo Racing in his Hilux.
Sunderland will once again be joined by Daniel Sanders at Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing for what will be the Australian's first event since crashing out of this year's Dakar Rally on a road section while riding to the start of the special stage.
With Yamaha having closed its offroad programme, Adrien Van Beveran has moved to the Monster Energy Honda Team, alongside Ricky Brabec, Pablo Quintanilla, and Jose Ignacio Cornejo.
2023 Dakar Rally route
|Saturday, December 31
|Sunday, January 1
|Monday, January 2
|Tuesday, January 3
|Wednesday, January 4
|Thursday, January 5
|Friday, January 6
|Saturday, January 7
|Sunday, January 8
|Monday, January 9
|Tuesday, January 10
|Wednesday, January 11
|Thursday, January 12
|Empty Quarter Marathon
|Friday, January 13
|Empty Quarter Marathon
|Saturday, January 14
|Sunday, January 15