Dakar 2024: 2024 Dakar Rally will bring novelty, surprise and innovation to the dunes

Dakar 2024: 2024 Dakar Rally will bring novelty, surprise and innovation to the dunes

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The 2024 Dakar Rally is set to push things to the limit among the towering dunes of Saudi Arabia. Taking on the world’s toughest race are the fearless Red Bull Desert Wings squad, including multiple Dakar champions as well as a new generation of challengers. The action gets underway on January 5 as the convoy enters a race course measuring 5,000 kilometres and split into 12 stages. Only the bravest and best will reach the finish line in Yanbu on January 19.

The difficulty level for the fifth edition of the Dakar hosted by Saudi Arabia has shifted up through the gears. The route ahead features 60% new territory as well as an all-new 48-hour stage measuring 600 kilometres. With fresh ground to cover and an innovative new format to master, the unpredictability factor of this Dakar is well and truly off the scale.

21-year-old Seth Quintero will drive for defending Dakar champions TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team racer makes the step up to the elite car class after taking the T3 title of the latest World Rally-Raid Championship. Joining Quintero in the Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ is co-driver Dennis Zenz.

“When I got the call to race the next Dakar with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing that was something I couldn’t turn down.”Seth Quintero

Joining Quintero in a formidable driving lineup for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing are Lucas Moraes and Giniel de Villiers. Moraes placed third as a rookie last time out and will have Armand Monleon reading the map. De Villiers remains the only African born driver to win the Dakar thanks to his victory in 2009, fellow South African Dennis Murphy returns as his co-driver.

Driving Overdrive’s Hilux as a privateer entry at the next Dakar will be Guillaume de Mévius. The Belgian finished third in the T3 category at the last Dakar and is now set for his car class debut.

Looking to make it three wins on the spin is Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari will be behind the wheel of a Prodrive Hunter alongside co-driver Mathieu Baumel representing Nasser Racing Team. Al-Attiyah can make history in 2024 as the first driver to win the rally with four different manufacturers.

“I think we have a package here to win the Dakar. Everything that Prodrive does is always very professional and the standards are very high.”Nasser Al-Attiyah

It’s plain to see that Sébastien Loeb has unfinished business at the Dakar and won’t rest until he gets his win. The nine-time WRC winner returns with Bahrain Raid Xtreme and co-driver Fabian Lurquin following two consecutive runner-up finishes.

Adding to an intriguing battle for dominance in the car division are a trio of Team Audi Sport crews with 17 Dakar titles between. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergvist are bringing their three Audi RS Q E-Trons back to the Dakar. The bivouac will be on standby to see what improvements have been made together with the adjustments the FIA implemented on the 'Balance of Technologies' to this innovative vehicle since we last saw it race in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

“The Dakar has a very unique atmosphere because everything is at the limit. It puts the cars at the limit, the mechanics, the team and the drivers.” – Carlos Sainz

It will be a third Dakar on four wheels for Laia Sanz as she takes control of a SRT Buggy. Sanz has finished all 13 editions of the Dakar that she has raced, including 11 a bike.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing got back to winning ways at the 2023 Dakar Rally thanks to a perfect performance by Kevin Benavides. The manufacturer from Mattighofen had scored 18 consecutive Dakar bike race wins between 2001 and 2019, but until Benavides’s triumph they had yet to taste victory in Saudi Arabia.

“I’m working hard in the weeks before this next Dakar to make sure I’m physically 100% for the rally.” – Kevin Benavides

Benavides will be joined at the rally by KTM team-mates Toby Price and Matthias Walkner. Both of these bikers collected Dakar wins while the race was hosted in South America and now they want to make their mark in the Middle East as well. Price finished as runner-up at the last Dakar, less than a minute behind Benavides after 5,000 kilometres of racing.

“It feels great to be able to race the biggest, toughest rally once again.”Toby Price

Joining his older brother Kevin at the Dakar will be Luciano Benavides. The newly crowned 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship winner will once again be saddling up on a Husqvarna bike.

It’s been a tough season for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders with both suffering injuries along the way. However, Sanders’s victory at Mexico’s Sonora Rally in April and Sunderland’s Dakar wins in 2017 and 2022 mean this pair remain more than capable of springing a surprise or two.

“My year hasn’t been the best and I’m looking to turn that around and get things working in the right direction.”Sam Sunderland

Source Red Bull Desert Wings / Red Bull content pool
Photo:  Kin Marcin / Red Bull Content Pool

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