The Dakar opens the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship with a battle of giants in Saudi Arabia | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

The Dakar opens the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship with a battle of giants in Saudi Arabia

  • gb
04.01.22

 

2022 marks an exciting new chapter for cross-country rallying, as the discipline becomes the seventh World Championship under the governance of the FIA. A total of 52 crews representing six manufacturers have already signed up for the global series. Watch the video to discover more!

 

The five-round inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship began with the famous Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, an epic adventure in the spectacular sand and dunes of the Empty Quarter. Following administrative checks and technical scrutineering in Jeddah, the competitors registered for the World Rally-Raid championship in T1 cars, T3 lightweight prototypes, T4 SSVs and trucks (T5) set out towards Ha’il, with a prologue on the way, for the opening ceremony in presence of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and the first two stages out of twelve in total.

Among the leading T1 entries registered in the Manufacturers’ championship, Bahrain Raid Xtreme fields two Prodrive Hunters in the hands of Nani Roma/Alex Haro Bravo and Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin. Cross-country heroes Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel and Yazeed Al Rahji/Michael Orr, joined by Overdrive’s Lucio Alvarez/Armand Montleon, are competing for Toyota Gazoo Racing in GR DKR Hilux cars, while X-Raid Mini JCW Team lines three John Cooper Works Buggies with Jacub “Kuba” Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk, Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov and Sebastian Halpern/Bernardo Graue. Two French crews, Pierre Lachaume/Stéphane Duple and Jean-Rémy Bergounhe/Gérard Dubuy, will score points for MD Rallye Sport Optimus.

After three stages on the Dakar, Al-Attiyah tops the leader board, after claiming victory on Stage 1, and finishing 2nd and 8th on the following two stages. Loeb took the win on Stage 2 and is second overall, almost 38 minutes behind, while Overdrive Racing’s Lucio Alvarez/Armand Montleon complete the provisional top 3. There are still nine stages to come, with a rest day on January 8.

In the T3 categories, there will be close competition between the Red Bull Off-Road JR Team of Cristina Gutierrez/François Cazalet, Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz and Guillaume De Mevius/Kellon Walch driving OT3, and the PH Sport squad composed of Jean-Luc Pisson/Jean Brucy, Lionel Costes/Christophe Tressens and Marco Carrara/Enrico Gaspari in Zephyr vehicles.

T4 has attracted eight entrants to the opening round of the series including the Can-Am Factory South Racing and Cobant – Energylandia teams, while there are five crews entered to compete in the T5 truck category.

After the Dakar, the championship will remain in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge before heading to central Asia and Kazakhstan, where the arid scrublands and deserts of the world’s largest landlocked country provide another different challenge. Rally Andalucia marks the World Championship’s visit to Europe, while Rallye du Maroc on the African continent rounds out the season with its wide range of technical, fast and sandy tracks, as well as dunes.

New technical regulations, in support of the FIA’s long-term environmental strategy, have been introduced marking the debut of alternative and experimental technologies in the discipline. Regulations for T5 prototype trucks have also been introduced and, in general, all regulations pertaining to cross-country vehicles have been aligned to ensure inclusivity and consistency for competitors across all events around the world.

For the first time, world titles will be awarded in cross-country, with three titles for Drivers, Co-Drivers and Manufacturers. Competitors across all groups will however continue to fight for category honours. A new co-efficient point-scoring system for Cross-Country Rallies and Marathon Rallies also reflects the difference between the events, and increased Leg points for the top five crews in each category will bolster competition.

 

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