2025 Dakar Rally emphasising racing in Empty Quarter

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Credit: Amaury Sport Organisation

The Dakar Rally will remain in Saudi Arabia for a sixth straight year in 2025, but the Amaury Sport Organisation hopes to shake things up with some more action in the Empty Quarter.

Also known as Rub’ al Khali, the Empty Quarter is a massive erg that has been used by the Dakar for its marathon stages. For 2025, the desert will host the final three stages and wrap up in Shubaytah, which hosted the inaugural Chrono Stage in 2024.

The Chrono Stage, a two-day leg that required competitors to camp overnight before continuing the next morning, returns for 2025 as a 950-kilometre stage. Various elements from the stage has been expanded to encompass other legs: cars and bikes will begin concurrently (rather than the latter starting in the morning followed by the former hours later) but take separate routes on at least five stages, while the trucks will do the same for one of the days in the Empty Quarter. Even with the Chrono Stage being a souped-up marathon stage, marathon rules will still apply for one more leg, prohibiting competitors from receiving asssistance from their teams.

The last stage will feature a tribute to Dakars of yore by having every vehicle start at the same time, separated by class. This was previously done during the Paris–Dakar Rally days as competitors made their way to the finish at Lac Rose in Dakar, and is possible for 2025 due to the Empty Quarter’s wide range and attrition whittling down the field.

Bisha, which first appeared on the Dakar route in 2021, will host the Prologue and starting bivouac.

The race begins on 3 January and runs through 17 January. After the Prologue, there will be twelve stages total.

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