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How to watch the 2021 Dakar Rally on NBCSN: Start times, stages, schedules, race info


US’ biker Ricky Brabec is pictured before a driving session on the eve of technical checkup in Jeddah, on December 31, 2020 ahead of the 2021 Dakar Rally, which this year will take place in Saudi Arabia from January 3 to 15, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

With an American champion returning to defend his championship for the first time, here are all the TV and schedule information you’ll need for following the 2021 Dakar Rally.

For the second consecutive year, the off-road rally raid classic will be held in Saudi Arabia, where the course will cover 12 days and more than 3,000 miles. There are more than 500 drivers and riders on the entry list for the event, whose divisions include motorbikes, cars, lightweights and trucks.

California native Ricky Brabec will be among the favorites in bikes after becoming the first American to win the Dakar Rally last year (Casey Currie also was a U.S. champion last year but isn’t racing the event in 2021).

Andrew Short also should be a contender after moving to the Yamaha team.

In the overall car class, three-time Dakar winner Carlos Sainz is back to defend his crown against a field that includes Nasser Al Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel.

Here is the schedule for watching same-day coverage of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN:

DateCoverageTime (ET)
Sun., Jan. 3Stage 1 – Jeddah to Bisha7:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 4Stage 2 – Bisha to Wadi Al Dawasir6:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 5Stage 3 – Wadi Al Dawasir Loop Stage6:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 6Stage 4 – Wadi Al Dawasir to Riyadh6:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 7Stage 5 – Riyadh to Buraydah6:30 p.m.
Fri., January 8Stage 6 – Buraydah to Ha’il6:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 9Rest Day11 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 10Stage 7 – Ha’il to Sakaka6:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 11Stage 8 – Sakaka to Neom6:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 12Stage 9 – Neom Loop Stage6:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 13Stage 10 – Neom to Al- ‘Ula2:30 a.m.
Thurs., Jan. 14Stage 11 – Al- ‘Ula to Yanbu9:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 15Stage 12 – Yanbu to Jeddah6 p.m.


Competitors will race Jan. 2 in a 129-kilometer Prologue to determine the starting order. The race will begin Jan. 3 with a rest day Jan. 9 and the conclusion on Jan. 15.

Here are the daily distances (total/special):

Stage 1: 623/277 kilometers; held entirely on tracks through valleys with stony pathways a hazard for tires

Stage 2: 685/457 km; yellow and white dunes

Stage 3: 629/403 km; pure desert near the gateway to the famous “Empty Quarter”

Stage 4: 813/337 km; winding tracks comprise the longest stage

Stage 5: 662/456 km; difficult dunes section will slow the pace

Stage 6: 618/448 km; a variety of smooth and sandy dunes

Stage 7: 737/471 km; sand mountains and stony plateaus

Stage 8: 709/375 km; some majestic landscapes

Stage 9: 579/465 km; a stretch along the shore of the Red Sea

Stage 10: 583/342 km; hills lead to gorgeous vistas

Stage 11: 557/511 km; dunes return

Stage 12: 452/225 km; more dunes as the rally returns to its start in Jeddah


Roadbook distribution: The maps will be handed out 10 minutes (for cars) or 20 minutes (motorbikes) ahead of the starts.

Increased warning/slow zones: Competitors will face new speed limits in some hazardous areas, which also will have greater notification

Tire management: Bike riders will be limited to six rear tires over 12 stages

Airbag vests: The safety devices are mandatory for motorbike and quad competitors.

Work restrictions: Piston changes will incur increased penalties for riders, who also will be precluded from tinkering on bikes while at 15-minute refueling stations.