When the 44th Dakar Rally launches on 1 January 2022 in Saudi Arabia, it will mark the start of a new era. On Sunday, the route map for the race was announced in conjunction with the inaugural schedule for the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship; Dakar will serve as the first of five rounds.
For the third straight year, the Dakar Rally will take place in Saudi Arabia. The 2022 edition boasts the longest distance of the three layouts at 8,375 km, with 4,258 being Special Stages. By comparison, the 2020 race which ran from Jeddah to Al-Qiddiya was 7,900 km (5,000 in Special Stages) and the 2021 event‘s loop around Jeddah was 7,646 km (4,767 SS).
The twelve-stage 2022 Rally will begin in Ha’il, which was the midway point of the 2021 race. Riyadh will serve as the halfway mark and rest day on 8 January, while Jeddah is the end.
After winners are crowned in Dakar, the new World Rally-Raid Championship will head to Abu Dhabi for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Held since 1991, the event is organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of United Arab Emirates. Rally Kazakhstan‘s inaugural event took place in 2017 with Aktau City as the main hub. Rally Andalucía in Spain became an FIA event in 2021 after first taking place the previous year. The final round will be the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco, which has taken place since 2000. Rally Andalucía and the Rallye du Maroc have traditionally been shakedown races for Dakar competitors.
Although the FIA has overseen the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies since 1993, the World Rally-Raid Championship aims to unify the sanctioning body’s rally raid portfolio and transform it into the seventh FIA world championship. The Amaury Sport Organisation, the organiser of the Dakar, Andalucía, and Maroc Rallies as well as the Tour de France, will be the new series’ promoter.
“Following the announcement of the partnership with ASO for the promotion of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, I am delighted to see another big milestone confirmed today with the series’ inaugural calendar,” said FIA president Jean Todt. “To count the Dakar Rally as the curtain opener is a genuine transition and a great achievement. We can even talk about a revolution, as new energies are being introduced. Motorsport competition is a laboratory as we constantly strive to develop ‘clean cars’. From a sporting perspective, this leaves room for creativity and imagination.”
The WRRC was unveiled in June. In addition to regular rally raid classes like cars and bikes, the championship will see the début of the T1 Ultimate division for vehicles that operate through alternative/experimental means.
“While the discipline is getting structured, it’s the start of a virtuous cycle to drive the energy transition and achieve ‘zero emissions’ by 2030,” commented ASO CEO Yann Le Moënner. “The creation of the T1-Ultimate class is the foundation stone of the building: pioneer vehicles will set out to conquer the Saudi desert with alternative technologies, opening the way for all the manufacturers who are maturing their projects. We want to give this medium-term strategy a sustained pace, while setting realistic deadlines.”
2022 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship schedule
|1||Dakar Rally||1–14 January|
|2||Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge||5–10 March|
|3||Rally Kazakhstan||24–30 April|
|4||Rally Andalucía||6–12 June|
|5||Rallye du Maroc||6–12 October|