Dakar 2022: news and challenges

My stories / 10. December 2021

This year there are several stages at remote deserts testing the riders’ navigation skills.

Dunes, tracks and sand

Beginning on January 2, 2022 in Ha’il the 44th Dakar culminates in the final stage on January 14, 2022 in Jeddah. This year, the organizers put several stages into remote deserts, where countless sand dunes await riders to test their navigation skills. Up to three stages will take place exclusively in the sand dunes. Despite the fact that the Dakar will take place in Saudi Arabia for the third time, up to 80% of the tracks will be completely new.

Digitization in the desert

This year, elite drivers, including Števo Svitko, are said to be given electronic roadbooks. This navigation system should allow riders to orient themselves better and faster in the unknown land. Following the tragedy of Paul Goncalves and Edwin Straver in 2020, airbag vests will be available, warnings and speed limits of 90 km / h will be set on dangerous sections of the track. We will see if it will finally be possible to equip all riders with technological innovations. The project is said to have delays due to missing components.

Route details

We know the starting and finishing point. However, the exact details in the meantime are not yet known. Before the start of the race, the teams undergo a three-day inspection. We already know today the two so-called loop stages, in which the start and finish are in the same place and one marathon stage, which is a two-day section in which the competitors cannot be helped by the team. A rest day in Riyadh is planned for January 8.

“South America was more technical, in Saudi Arabia it’s more about courage. You have to go full speed, but sometimes you don’t know what is behind the top of the dune,”

says Svitko. He also expects this year’s edition moved to the south of the country to be safer:

“There is more sand in the south, there will be dunes and it will be more beautiful, but above all safer. In the north, there were many rivers full of large stones and there were a lot of injuries.”

Top form of the rider is a must

“Each year is more challenging. Saudi Arabia is terribly fast. The sand is unpredictable. That is why I trained all year and left nothing to chance. The competition in Dakar is fierce and often it’s just minutes what decide. The top form is a must, but one also needs a huge amount of luck. When I find myself in the TOP 10, it will be a great result. I am going to Dakar again with my heart and with the will to reach further than last time,”

explains Štefan Svitko, who had already experienced resignations due to injuries or motorcycle failures, penalties, but also a winning feeling when he took the prize for the overall second place five years ago as the first rider on a serial motorcycle in the history of the race.

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