The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally, one of the toughest off-road events in the world, begins on Sunday. For the second time, drivers from all over the world, including Poles, will race in Saudi Arabia.
Last year's competition opened another, Asian chapter in the rally’s history, after 30 years in Africa and 11 years in South America. This year, the route is 7,646 km long, including 4,767 km of special stages. It will also be the first ever major off-road rally to take place during the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic.
The current edition kicks off with the Saturday prologue, which will determine the order on the starting list. The main competition will start with the Sunday stage from Jeddah to Bisha.
After a one day off in Ha’il on January 9, the participants will set off on the most demanding stage, during which it will be impossible to use the help of the service on the route. The finish in Jeddah on January 15 will determine the winners.
In 2021, twelve Poles will take part in this famous off-road rivalry: Adam Tomiczek, Maciej Giemza, Konrad Dąbrowski and Jacek Bartoszek in the motorcycle class, Jakub Przygoński, piloted by the German Timo Gottschalk, in the car class, while Kamil Wiśniewski will start in the quad competition.
As many as three Polish crews will compete in the UTV light vehicles category: Aron Domżała and Maciej Marton, Michał Goczał and Szymon Gospodarczyk, as well as Marek Goczał and Rafał Marton.
In the history of the Dakar, Poles have occasionally achieved accolades. Rafał Sonik won in the quad category in 2015, while Darek Rodewald, a repairman in a Dutch truck crew, has notched up two triumphs. Also in 2015, Krzysztof Hołowczyc finished third in the car competition.