In its 45th edition, the
2023 will be held in 14 stages in addition to a prologue, and will face the participants to more dunes and nearly 5,000 kilometers of specials, that is, the “most demanding” route since their arrival in Saudi Arabia in 2020, according to the organizers.
This edition is expected to be “particularly challenging”, warned Yann Le Moenner, general director of the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), during the presentation of the route this Thursday.
The 8,549 km rally will start on December 31 from the Red Sea to finish on January 15 in the Persian Gulf after more than two weeks of adventure.
Unlike the three previous editions, including the one in 2022 marked by at least one explosion before the first stage, the 455 vehicles expected at the start (865 pilots and co-pilots) will meet at a bivouac built 200 km west of Medina.
During the first week, marked by special stages of more than 400 kilometres, they will head north towards the archaeological site of Al Ula with delicate areas full of rocks.
After a break in Riyadh on the 9th, the rally will enter the depths of Rub al-Jali (south), one of the largest deserts in the world, to face a marathon stage that could affect the final classification, where He awaits the KTM bikes of Kevin Benavides and Matthias Walkner and the GasGas of the current champion Sam Sunderland and his teammate Dany Sanders in the top positions.
In the car category, will be the test of the truth for the Audi hybrid engine Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekström and the defending champion, Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah (Toyota).
The race will end on the 15th in Dammam with a beach special and a route that is not conducive to big changes in the standings.
After the Sahel and South America, the Dakar, the most important rally in the world, moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020, a controversial choice due to the ultra-conservative kingdom’s little respect for human rights.