“For the third year running, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the nation of motorsports and the home of the Dakar Rally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sport and president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.
The endurance test will be the third consecutive Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia and the 44th edition of the rally itself, with 1,065 participants aboard 578 vehicles racing across 8,375 km of treacherous routes in the various categories.
The landscape and backdrop of the course are similar to the last edition, and it begins and ends after 12 stages in the port city of Jeddah.
From canyons and cliffs in the NEOM region to stretches of dunes surrounding Riyadh, the race also takes in the Red Sea coastline and the mysterious Empty Quarter.
Hybrid vehicles make their debut with top contenders Stephane Peterhansel, a 14-time winner, and Carlos Sainz, winner in 2010, 2018 and 2020, behind the wheel in the new category.
In the motorbike race, previous champions Toby Price, Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner, Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides will all also be at the start line.
Motorbike and quad racers will be kitted out with airbag vests, which can minimize the consequences of high-speed impact.
Stage 1A will take place on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, and will run from the starting point of Jeddah to Hail, covering a total of 636 km. The following day will see a 546 km loop that starts and ends in Hail for Stage 1B.
On Monday, Jan. 3, Stage 2 of the rally will take place between Hail and Al-Artawiya over 585 km. Stage 3 takes place the following day on a 554 km-trail from Al-Artawiyah to Al-Qaysumah.
Stage 4 will see the race go from Al-Qaysumah to Riyadh over 707 km on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Thursday and Friday, meanwhile, will see loop races — Stages 5 and 6 — that end in the capital.
After a day’s rest on Saturday, the action returns on Sunday, Jan. 7, with the 700 km Stage 7 from Riyadh to Al-Dawadimi.
Stage 8 sees a further 828 km, the longest of the 2022 Dakar Rally, that takes the race to Wadi Al-Dawasir. On Stage 9 the following day, the competitors will do a loop around Wadi Al-Dawasir over 490 km.
On Wednesday, Jan. 12, Stage 10 will see a 757 km drive from Wadi Al-Dawasir to Bisha. In Bisha, a loop of 500 km on Thursday will cover Stage 11.
Finally, on Friday, Jan. 14, Stage 12 from Bisha back to Jeddah completes the 2022 Dakar Rally.