Dakar rally set for Saudi Arabia in 2021

‘Third edition’ of famed off-road event will feature special ‘classic’ section for 1980s and ’90s vehicles

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A vehicle makes its way across the Saudi desert during a trail run held earlier this year | Dakar Rally photos

Calling it the “third edition” of the famed Dakar Rally, officials have opened registration for the famed off-road challenge, which is scheduled for January 3-15 in Saudi Arabia.

Founded in 1978 as the Paris-Dakar Rally, the original route when from the French capital city into western Africa. Insurgency interrupted the run and in 2009 it was moved to South America.

After a trial run earlier this year in the Middle East, officials have announced the 43rd Dakar Rally will launch the “third edition” and will be held in Saudi Arabia, with Jeddah hosting the start and the finish on a “loop course.”

Also included in 2021 will be a “Dakar Classic” for vehicles from the 1980s and ‘90s.

Motorcycle racer works his way across the Saudi landscape in Dakar test run
Motorcycles leave their mark — until the wind blows them away
Racers will experience some amazing landscape

An effort will be made to slow all competitors, and thus to make the competition safer, including the distribution of route books immediately before each stage rather than in advance. There also will be marked “slow zones,” and the variety of tires will be limited. Those on motorcycles also will be required to wear airbag vests.

Officials announced an “e-Dakar Tour” for competitors, including one June 16 for French and English speakers. Registration for the Dakar Rally begins June 15.

For additional information, visit the Dakar Rally website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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