Toyota Gazoo Race, Team Audi Sport, X-Raid Mini plus Bahrain Raid Xtreme set for Dakar Rally showdown
Toyota Gazoo Racing, the X-raid Mini JCW team, Team Audi Sport and Bahrain Raid Xtreme will lock horns on the longest Dakar for several seasons, which will also feature new rules and regulations plus upgraded T1+ category machinery coming up against their rivals for the first time on equal terms.
Toyota Gazoo Racing are the defending champions and field three of the latest T1+ specification V6 Toyota Hiluxes for quadruple Dakar winner and inaugural W2RC champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, 2009 Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers and South African’s Henk Lategan.
Prodrive-built Hunter BRXs pushed Al-Attiyah’s Toyota all the way in 2022 and the British team has entered three biofuel-powered Hunters with regard to nine-time WRC champion plus last year’s Dakar and W2RC runner-up Sébastien Loeb, Argentina’s Orlando Terranova plus Rally of Morocco winner Guerlain Chicherit, who is running under the GCK Motorsport banner. Lithuania’s Vaidotas Zala drives a fourth customer Seeker.
Team Audi Sport has been developing an E2 version of the particular Audi RS Q e-tron away from the spotlight associated with international competition and joined the Open category inside Morocco in October. The car features state-of-the-art electric technology and won four stages on a successful Dakar debut in 2022.
Once again, three-time Dakar winner Carlos Sainz will compete alongside 14-time event winner Stéphane Peterhansel plus Sweden’s Mathias Ekström. Sainz and Ekström finished 12 th and ninth in 2022, while Peterhansel suffered serious delays and dropped out of contention, the particular Frenchman’s consolation being able to equal Ari Vatanen’s all-time Dakar record of 49 stage wins.
The particular team has tested extensively throughout the season plus the E2 version from the e-tron is sure to be competitive from the outset.
The X-raid Mini JCW Team announced its brand new Mini John Cooper Works Plus inside early December and two cars have been entered in the new T1+ category regarding Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern. They run upon second-generation HVO fuel.
Meanwhile, Denis Krotov and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will run a pair of traditional Mini Steve Cooper Functions Buggies.
X-raid has an impressive record at the Dakar with six victories since 2012: Peterhansel earned three wins with Minis in 2012, 2013 plus 2021, Nani Roma sealed success along with team orders in 2014, Al-Attiyah won in 2015 and Sainz prevailed within 2020.
Adding weight to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s challenge will be a further five Toyota Hiluxes came into by Belgium’s Overdrive Race. Third seed is the particular 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas champ Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a team that furthermore includes Dutchman Erik van Loon, Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini, Frenchman Lionel Baud and Brazil’s Lucas Moraes.
Century Racing has moved into a pair of CR6-Ts for Frenchman Mathieu Serradori and South Africa’s Brian Baragwanath, while Czech privateers Miroslav Zapletal (Ford F-150) and Martin Prokop (Ford Raptor), Lithuania’s Benediktas Vanagas (Toyota) and French veteran Christian Lavieille (Optimus MD) are more than capable of taking top 10 finishes.
Lopez looks to defend Dakar plus W2RC titles in T3
The FIA T3 category has become one of the most competing in any form of motor sport and Francisco Lopez will have his work cut out in order to, not only defend their Dakar Rally title, but also to win the particular category again against a provisional 43 rivals.
The Chilean is a three-time Dakar winner plus teams up with co-driver Juan Pablo Latrach as the member of the new Red Bull Can-Am Factory Group. He will tackle the event together with new Spanish team-mate Cristina Gutiérrez, who finished third in last year’s championship and will certainly be competing in her seventh Dakar. The third member of the particular new team is 22-year-old Lithuanian Rokas Baciuška, who will drive a Can-Am within the FIA T4 section.
At the same time, Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BF Goodrich brings together last year’s 20-year-old T3 runner-up Seth Quintero, the 2022 Dakar T4 champion Austin Jones and fellow American Mitch Guthrie.
Quintero won the record 11 stages on last year’s Dakar and, like his American team-mates, will be challenging hard to beat Lopez on this occasion. Guthrie may drive a prototype T3-M by MCE5 at the particular Dakar, the vehicle running 32-inch wheels and tyres and using hybrid technology in line with the FIA regulations intended for the T3-U (Ultimate) category to become introduced in 2024.
Jones, who makes the transition from T4 to T3, explained: “The Dakar route is the particular longest it’s been to get a while now. We’ve got 5, 000km plus 15 days of racing. It’s definitely going to end up being a challenge with the extra times. More days and more kilometres give extra opportunities pertaining to things to happen. ”
Competition inside the lightweight prototype T3 category comes from the Grallyteam OT3 associated with Belgium’s Guillaume de Mevius, FN Speed Team Can-Ams in the particular hands of Santiago Navarro and Jordi Vidiella, the JLC Race Zephyr meant for Jean-Luc Pisson and a PH Sport Zephyr for Antoine Meo
A plethora associated with additional Southern Racing Can-Ams are inserted in the hands from the likes of Fernando Alvarez, Dania Akeel, Helder Rodrigues and David Zille, while X-raid has also got into six Yamaha YXZ 1000 R prototypes for Annett Fisher, Camelia Liparoti, João Ferreira, Ricardo Porém, Ahmed Al-Kuwari plus former Dakar quad champion Ignacio Casale.
Privateers likely to feature at the top of the leader board include Saudi Arabia’s Saleh Al-Saif.
Can-Ams dominate T4 entry
The particular FIA T4 section will be also well-supported with 45 entries and Rokas will be hoping in order to begin the particular defence associated with his W2RC T4 title in winning style. With last year’s category winner Jones switching to T3, the Lithuanian’s main competitors originates from a host of rivals in South Racing-built Can-Ams.
Marek Goczal plus his brother Michal drive a pair of such cars went into under the Cobant-Energylandia Move Team banner ad, along with young Eryk Goczal, the surprise recent outright winner associated with the Dubai International Baja.
South Racing Can-Am Team rivals include last year’s Dakar runner-up Gerard Farrés, Rodrigo Luppi de Oliviera, Bruno Conti de Oliveira, former T1 front-running Saudi Yasir Seaidan, Molly Taylor and Cristiano de Sousa Batista.
FN Speed Team’s young Pau Navarro, Luis Diaz and Juan Miguel Medero are likely to feature, whilst former professional Dakar biker Xavier sobre Soultrait is usually entered in a Polaris RZR Pro R running under the Sébastien Loeb Racing banner.
The Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team is running Pro Rs for the likes of Michele, Carlo and Pietro Cinotto.
Koolen aims to protect FIA T5 title
Kees Koolen teams upward with Wouter de Graaf and Wouter Rosegaar to kick-start the particular defence associated with his FIA T5 Championship title in an Iveco Powerstar truck. Only the Dakar, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge plus Rally of Morocco count for T5 points as well as the Dutchman faces fierce competition in the category that has attracted a host of big names, many of whom do not compete designed for W2RC points and enter the Dakar as an one -off.
In the absence associated with the Kamaz-Master Team, main rivals consist of last year’s W2RC runners-up, Martin Macik, Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda, a number of Team de Rooy Ivecos, Tatra Buggyra ZM Race Tatras, the Riwald Dakar Team, Hino Team Sugawara and Ales Loprais’s Instaforex Loprais Praga.
New stages and extended format for 2023
The 2023 Dakar continues to be extended to include 4, 695 aggressive kilometres in a route of 8, 538km over a Prologue plus 14 demanding selective sections.
A 10-minute penalty is going to be introduced for a competitor not carrying their spare wheel after a puncture, neutralisation sections within the middle of stages will be eradicated and the points’ structure for that Dakar has been revised.
The event starts from a new Sea Camp base on the particular Red Ocean, near Yanbu, on New Year’s Eve (December 31 st ) and heads across the central part of Saudi Arabia, via the An Nafud desert to Hail, and upon to a rest day inside Riyadh on January 9 th .
The particular route then switches to a new southerly direction that includes a four-day Marathon adventure deep in the remote Empty Quarter in the south-east of the particular country.
Competitors then head back in order to civilisation and a new finish at the city of Damman within the Eastern Province upon January 15 th .
2023 Dakar Rally – leading entries:
200. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux
201. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) Prodrive Hunter BRX
202. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
203. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Armand Monleón (ESP) X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Plus
204. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Edouard Boulanger (FRA) Audi RS Q e-tron E2
205. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux
206. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Prodrive Seeker BRX
207. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Johnson (ESP) Audi RS Q e-tron E2
208. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Alex Haro (ESP) Prodrive Hunter BRX
209. Mathieu Serradori (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Century CR6-T Buggy
210. Matn Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country
211. Mattias Ekström (SWE)/Emil Bergkvist (SWE) Audi RS Q e-tron E2
212. Sebastien Halpern (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) X-Raid Small John Cooper Works Plus
213. Vaidotas Zala (LTU)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) Prodrive Hunter
214. Benediktas Vanagas (LTU)/Kuldar Sikk (LTU) Toyota Hilux
215. Erik vehicle Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
216. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF)/Leonard Cremer (ZAF) Century CR6-T Buggy
217. Henk Lategan (ZAF)/Brett Cummings (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux
218. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Valentin Sarreaud (FRA) Optimus MD Pushchair
219. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Remi Boulanger (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
Timetable of events
Thursday, Dec 29
Administration checks, Sea Camp 08. 00hrs-20. 00hrs
Scrutineering checks, Sea Camp 09. 00hrs-21. 00hrs
Friday, December 30
Administration checks, Sea Get away 08. 00hrs-14. 30hrs
Scrutineering checks, Ocean Camp 09. 00hrs-15. 30hrs
Pre-event press conference, Sea Camp 18. 00hrs
Saturday, December 31
Start podium, Ocean Camp ’08. 00hrs onwards
Sea Camping – Sea Camp (Prologue) 11km
Sunday, January 1
Sea Camp – Ocean Camp (Stage 1) 367km
Monday, January 2
Sea Camp – Al-Ula (Stage 2) 430km
Tuesday, The month of january 3
Al-Ula – Are (Stage 3) 447km
Wednesday, January four
Hail – Hail (Stage 4) 425km
Thursday, Jan 5
Hail – Are (Stage 5) 373km
Fri, January 6
Hail – Al-Duwadimi (Stage 6) 465km
Saturday, January 7
Al-Duwadimi – Al-Duwadimi (Stage 7) 472km
Weekend, January 8
Al-Duwadimi – Riyadh (Stage 8) 398km
Monday, The month of january 9
Riyadh rest day
Tuesday, Jan 10
Riyadh – Haradh (Stage 9) 358km
Wed, January eleven
Haradh – Shaybah (Stage 10) 113km
Thursday, January 12
Shaybah – Vacant Quarter Convention (Stage 11) 275km
Friday, January 13
Empty Quarter Marathon – Shaybah (Stage 12) 183km
Saturday, The month of january 14
Shaybah – Al-Hofuf (Stage 13) 154km
Sunday, January fifteen
Al-Hofuf – Dammam (Stage 14) 136km