ASO pulls plug on Quads for 2025 Dakar Rally

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Credit: Jennifer Lindini/ASO

The FIM categories will only have two-wheelers at the 2025 Dakar Rally. Amidst rumours of the Quad category being axed due to a lack of manufacturer support, Amaury Sport Organisation head and race director David Castéra confirmed the news on Tuesday shortly before the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid. The class will still appear at the other World Rally-Raid Championship rounds.

“In the Dakar, we have decided to stop the Quad category next year in ’25 because we are going to focus more on bikes,” Castéra explained to Cross-Country Rally News. “We have many, many demands from competitors and we want to focus more on bikes. We have few quads now, there is no manufacturer to support all the competitors, so that’s why we are going to stop it for the moment.”

Quads first appeared at the Dakar Rally in 2009, the race’s inaugural edition in South America. It was widely popular in the region with as many as forty-nine riders in 2018, and its South American fan favourite status was cemented with all but two class winners hailing from the continent during the race’s stint there.

However, OEM backing began to decrease at the turn of the decade as they invested more into side-by-side vehicles, leading to rapid growth in the Challenger and SSV categories. Most Quad riders race a Yamaha Raptor with little, if any, factory assistance; CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team is the only full works programme in the class today.

The 2023 season was emblematic of the category’s struggles to even draw a grid. After sixteen riders raced the Dakar Rally and six at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, numbers bottomed out to a dismal two at the Sonora Rally. Things drastically flipped when the championship returned to South America for the Desafío Ruta 40 as fourteen riders were entered before dropping to ten at the season-ending Rallye du Maroc.

Only ten competed at Dakar in January, a result of both dwindling manufacturer interest and new Quad eligibility criteria that stipulates they must either have recent Dakar experience (within the past five years), have run three W2RC races, or signed up for the 2023 or 2024 championships. The decline happened again at the ADDC with only three entrants.

The BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, set to begin Wednesday, will have ten Quads. Three of them—Ayelén Bogado, Alberto Prieto Ruiz, and Marcin Wilkołek—are signed up for the Road to Dakar, which would guarantee them free Dakar registration if they won the subcategory (a tall task as they also have to compete against Rally2 bikes); while their division’s demise makes their plans uncertain should they succeed.

Concerns about the class’ future have been echoed by various competitors. Pablo Copetti, who finished third in Quad at the 2023 Dakar and a vocal critic of the ASO’s policies, sounded the alarm in March with a Facebook post.

“How are they going to eliminate the category that generated independent riders, who built their own vehicles in the neighbourhood workshop, at home, or with crews? We got to start sixty in South America but matters made us lower it until they eliminated it,” wrote Copetti. He considered switching to an SSV for the 2024 Dakar but could not find the funding. “It was the emblematic category of the South Americans! They illogically killed a category. How sad!”

“Much has been said about it quietly, but it seems that decisions have been made,” reigning Quad W2RC champion Laisvydas Kancius commented on Sunday.

Argentina’s Alejandro and Marcos Patronelli, who combined to win five Dakar Quad titles in the 2010s, had to abandon their plans of returning for the 2024 race out of sponsorship concerns. Rodolfo Guillioli, the 2023 W2RC runner-up in the class, switched to co-driving.

With no Quads for 2025, Manuel Andújar is the category’s final Dakar winner with his second title after 2021. Other class victors included Josef Macháček (2009), Ignacio Casale (2014, 2018, 2020), Rafał Sonik (2015), Sergei Kariakin (2017), Nicolás Cavigliasso (2019), and Alexandre Giroud (2022 and 2023); Marcos Patronelli won in 2010, 2013, and 2016 while Alejandro claimed the 2011 and 2012 editions.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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