Dakar opens FIA World Rally Raid Championship with battle of giants in Saudi Arabia

Dakar opens FIA World Rally Raid Championship with battle of giants in Saudi Arabia

2022 marks an exciting new chapter for off-road rallying, as the discipline becomes the seventh World Championship under the governance of the FIA. A total of 52 crews representing six manufacturers have already registered for the World Series. Watch the video to find out more!

The inaugural five rounds of the FIA ​​World Rally Raid Championship began with the famous Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, an epic adventure through the spectacular sands and dunes of the Empty Quarter. After administrative checks and scrutineering in Jeddah, the competitors registered for the World Rally Raid Championship in T1 cars, T3 light prototypes, T4 SSVs and trucks (T5) headed for Ha’il, with a prologue on the way, for the opening ceremony in the presence of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and the first two stages out of twelve in total.

Among the first T1s entered in the Manufacturers’ Championship, Bahrain Raid Xtreme will field two Prodrive Hunters in the hands of Nani Roma / Alex Haro Bravo and Sébastien Loeb / Fabian Lurquin. Cross-country heroes Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel and Yazeed Al Rahji / Michael Orr, joined by Overdrive’s Lucio Alvarez / Armand Montleon, compete for Toyota Gazoo Racing in GR DKR Hilux cars, while Team X -Raid Mini JCW lines up three John Cooper Works Buggies with Jacub “Kuba” Przygonski / Timo Gottschalk, Denis Krotov / Konstantin Zhiltsov and Sebastian Halpern / Bernardo Graue. Two French crews, Pierre Lachaume / Stéphane Duple and Jean-Rémy Bergounhe / Gérard Dubuy, will score points for the MD Rallye Sport Optimus.

After three stages on the Dakar, Al-Attiyah is at the top of the standings, having won the first stage and finished 2sd and 8e on the next two steps. Loeb won stage 2 and is second overall, at almost 38 minutes, while Lucio Alvarez / Armand Montleon of Overdrive Racing round out the provisional top 3. There are still nine stages to come, with a rest day on January 8.

In the T3 categories, the competition will be tight between the Red Bull Off-Road JR Team of Cristina Gutierrez / François Cazalet, Seth Quintero / Dennis Zenz and Guillaume De Mevius / Kellon Walch at the wheel of the OT3, and the PH Sport team. composed of Jean-Luc Pisson / Jean Brucy, Lionel Costes / Christophe Tressens and Marco Carrara / Enrico Gaspari in Zephyr vehicles.

The T4 drew eight participants in the opening round of the series, including the Can-Am Factory South Racing and Cobant – Energylandia teams, while five crews are entered to compete in the T5 truck category.

After the Dakar, the championship will stay in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge before heading to Central Asia and Kazakhstan, where the scrubland and arid deserts of the world’s largest landlocked country offer another different challenge. The Rally of Andalusia marks the visit of the World Championship to Europe, while the Rally of Morocco on the African continent completes the season with its wide range of technical, fast and sandy tracks, as well as dunes.

New technical regulations, in support of the FIA’s long-term environmental strategy, have been introduced, marking the start of alternative and experimental technologies in the discipline. Regulations for prototype T5 trucks have also been introduced and in general all off-road vehicle regulations have been aligned to ensure inclusiveness and consistency for competitors in all events across the globe.

For the first time, world titles will be awarded in off-roading, with three titles for Drivers, Co-Drivers and Manufacturers. Competitors from all groups will however continue to fight for category honors. A new point scoring system for off-road and marathon rallies also reflects the difference between events, and increasing stage points for the top five crews in each category will strengthen the competition.

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