The self-styled ‘world’s toughest rally’ has announced a raft of new safety measures for the next event. The move follows the deaths of two motorcycle competitors during the 2020 running.
For next year, all motorcycle competitors will be required to wear airbag vests, and aural warnings will notify competitors on the approach to Le Mans-style ‘slow zones’, which will limit speeds to 90kph in dangerous areas. Competitors will also be given digital roadbooks to take the place of old- fashioned paper versions.
Over the years the rally, which is open to amateur and professional drivers and riders, has earned a reputation for danger. Since 1979 an estimated 75 people have been killed – including spectators and journalists.
Next year’s Dakar Rally will also be run on an all-new route around Saudi Arabia after organisers had to can plans to take the event into neighbouring countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dakar organisers moved the event from South America to the Middle East for the first time this year. Event bosses had been in talks with neighbouring Jordan and Egypt about an extended route for 2021, but concerns over quarantine restrictions mean it will instead remain solely in Saudi Arabia for a second year.
The new route, which starts and ends in Jeddah, will loop through the middle of the country before following the outline of the Red Sea coast and returning to base 12 days later.