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2021 Dakar route announced featuring 12 stages in Saudi Arabia

2021 Dakar Rally route

Mini’s Spanish drivers Carlos Sainz of Spain and co-driver Lucas Cruz of Spain compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2020 between Shubaytah and Haradh, Saudi Arabia, on January 16, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The 2021 route for the Dakar Rally has been announced and will feature 12 stages from Jan. 3-15.

But first, the Dakar will begin with a prologue stage on Jan. 2 that determines starting positions for Stage 1. The kickoff will take competitors about 19 miles (30 kilometers) outside of King Abdullah Stadium were multiple sandy courses give drivers and riders a chance to finesse their way into a strong starting position.

Stage 1 will run from Jeddah to Bisha. This stage will be 386 miles that include some navigational hazards imposed by numerous intersections.

Dakar Route 2021

The first set of dunes will occur during the 426-mile Stage 2 that runs from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir.

The longest segment will be Stage 4. Run on Jan. 6, this 505-mile stage will feature high speed, winding roads.

After six stages, competitors get a rest day on Jan. 9 before launching into a two-day marathon in Stages 7 and 8. Stage 8 brings the competitors across the northern route as they head back toward the Red Sea, where the remainder of the rally will be run.

The 2021 Dakar Rally route will conclude with Stage 12 on Jan. 15 where the rally began: In Jeddah.

Commenting on the Saudi Arabia Dakar Rally route, seven-time winner Stephane Peterhansel said, “It was one nice surprise after another. What we saw in the race was even more beautiful than we could imagine. Being at risk of losing fifteen minutes at any time only makes the race more exciting.” Peterhansel finished third last year.

“It was a nice experience. The terrain was outstanding, like in Africa,” said last year’s winner, Carlos Sainz. “I’ve got great memories of my victory. Saudi Arabia surprised me, and I think it’ll be even more well-rounded this year. At any rate, the pressure is getting higher and higher.”

With a time of 40 hours, two minutes and 36 seconds, American rider Ricky Brabec won last year’s bike division over Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla. “My first experience was huge,” Brabec said. “It was like the desert back home! It’s insane. Rocky terrain, dry riverbeds and open deserts are what I love, so I hope we’ll be visiting them again.”

MORE: Carlos Sainz, Ricky Brabec win 2020 Dakar Rally