2023 Dakar Rally route breakdown released

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Credit: Amaury Sport Organisation

The 2023 Dakar Rally, the fourth in Saudi Arabia, will run across the entire country in one of the longer editions in race history. Specifics of the fourteen-stage route were revealed on Thursday, less than six months after the initial course was released.

The fourteen stages are the most since 2018 in South America, while the 4,704 km in Special Stages just slightly fall short of the Saudi Arabia record of 4,767 in 2021. Unlike that year, however, the 2023 race will be a point-to-point event instead of a loop. In total, the race will cover 8,549 km.

The race begins on 31 December 2022 with a ten-km prologue stage on the Saudi west coast along the Red Sea, where the Sea Camp bivouac is situated. The new year is rung in with a loop starting and ending at the Sea Camp totalling 368 km in Special Stages before heading to Al-‘Ula the next day. After reaching Ḥaʼil, another loop takes place for Stages #4 and #5.

Dawadmi, also known as Al Duwadimi, is the midway point as the finish to Stage #6, a loop for the seventh (the longest stage of the fourteen at 473 km), and continuing to Riyadh for the eighth. Riyadh, the Saudi capital, is not unfamiliar with motorsport outside of rally raid as the city has hosted Formula E since 2018, and it will also be the site of the Rally’s rest day on 9 January.

After the day off, teams will race towards Haradh followed by Shaybah. Stage #11 is held exclusively in Rub’ al Khali, or the “Empty Quarter”, which is part of one of the largest deserts in the world and a popular site for filming desert environments.

“This gigantic zone in which sand is king, especially in its most majestic form: dunes,” commented race director David Castera.

The twelfth and thirteenth stages see the return to Shaybah and trip to Al-Hofuf. Finally, Stage #14 on 15 January will be a 136-km dash from Al-Hofuf to Dammam.

2023 Dakar Rally route

StageStartFinishTotal DistanceSpecial Stage DistanceDate
PrologueSea CampSea Camp10 km10 km31 December 2022
1Sea CampSea Camp603 km368 km1 January 2023
2Sea CampAl-‘Ula590 km431 km2 January
3Al-‘UlaḤa’il669 km447 km3 January
4Ḥa’ilḤa’il573 km425 km4 January
5Ḥa’ilḤa’il646 km375 km5 January
6Ḥa’ilDawadmi876.68 km466 km6 January
7DawadmiDawadmi641.47 km473 km7 January
8DawadmiRiyadh722.41 km407 km8 January
RestRiyadhRiyadh9 January
9RiyadhHaradh710 km439 km10 January
10HaradhShaybah623 km114 km11 January
11ShaybahEmpty Quarter426 km275 km12 January
12Empty QuarterShaybah375 km185 km13 January
13ShaybahAl-Hofuf669 km154 km14 January
14Al-HofufDammam414 km136 km15 January
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