DAKAR RALLY 2022
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What is Dakar? The Dakar Rally is an annual rally-style race held over 12 consecutive days. It’s an epic off-road challenge where teams compete in five categories and on different fearsome terrains every day. This year’s Dakar will be held in Saudi Arabia for the third time ever since its creation in 1978.
What is the difference between rally and off-road? Compared to rally, off-road racing almost feels like a guided tour. Riders can follow notes, GPS and count on a pit crew; each race lasts a single day so; win or lose, everyone goes home when it's over. Dakar is a different beast. Riders compete in teams of two and receive the roadbook only a few hours before each race segment. From there, it’s up to them to find their way. Rallies last anywhere between 7 and 14 days, so each team can win the race once or twice over.
What are the Dakar classes and categories? Riders compete across five categories of vehicles during each Dakar: motorcycles, cars, trucks, side-by-sides and all-terrain vehicles. Each category is further divided into four or five classes. Each team hopes to win their vehicle category.
What is the vehicle of choice in the UTV category? Side-by-side vehicles have only had their category at Dakar for three years, but already, the Can-Am Maverick X3 has made an impact. It’s the back-to-back category champion and, simply put, a proven winner. For the UTV category, this is the vehicle of choice.
What is the roadbook? The single most important thing in rally. The roadbook is a travel guide describing the roads of a country. Regardless of how fast you can drive, you’re not going anywhere if you can’t understand the roadbook. Dakar has been won and lost many times just by how well riders, and especially co-drivers, understand it. One wrong turn can turn the dream race into a nightmare.
What’s the toughest job at Dakar? If you think driving across all different types of terrain in Dakar is tough, try being the co-driver. You have to guide your partner using maps, a rally computer, the roadbook and sometimes little more than your educated guesses. There’s no tougher job than co-driving in the Dakar Rally.
What do bivouac, liaison and special mean? Dakar Rally terminology is full of specific nouns and concepts, so you must learn a few new favorite words. The bivouac is the place where riders will sleep, eat and have shelter. A liaison is a timed drive from the bivouac to the start of a special, or to get back to the bivouac after a special; it is part of the overall race, and teams can get penalized during the liaison. Finally, the special is the day’s actual race, which is timed.
What do fesh-fesh, parc-fermé, and off-piste mean? Here are three new Dakar Rally terms to get familiar with. The parc-fermé, which is French for “closed park,” means a safe zone where riders, mechanics or co-drivers can’t work on their vehicles before the next day. Fesh-fesh refers to a specific and tricky type of terrain: it’s a type of dust or dune that looks like solid ground but behaves like mud. Finally, off-piste occurs when you’re driving away from the actual racing road—like in the desert, for example.