The Dakar Rally returns to Saudi Arabia for a fifth year in 2024. Revealed Saturday at Châteaux de Lastours in France, sixty percent of the 2024 route will go through new areas that the rally had not previously visited while its centrepiece is a new 48H Chrono Stage.
The Chrono Stage will replace the Empty Quarter Marathon, though marathon rules that ban competitors from receiving assistance from their teams remain in place and it will still go through the Rub’ al Khali desert. The 48-hour, 600-kilometre stage will split the FIA and FIM entries into different routes; the first FIA teams to start the stage will receive time bonuses as they no longer have the benefit of following the path laid down by the bikes, a perk that is already used for FIM riders. By 4 PM on the first day, all teams must report to the nearest mini-bivouac, of which there will be eight with limited resources due to the marathon conditions, before resuming the next day at 7 AM to complete the stage.
In total, the rally will be twelve stages long following the Prologue and roughly 5,000 kilometres in distance. It will begin in Al-‘Ula and head westward before going back to end in Yanbu along the Red Sea, the coast of which was the site of the 2023 Dakar Rally’s opener.
Each stage will also feature a 100-km deviation for select entrants racing a vehicle powered by environmentally friendly sources like hydrogen or fully electric.
Other changes from 2023 include restricting the Dakar Classic to 100 competitors. 187 took part in the 2023 edition.
The rally will remain in Saudi Arabia through 2029, though Amaury Sport Organisation director David Castera has not ruled out potentially visiting other countries.
The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January and will end on 19 January.