Rule changes for the 2021 Dakar build on previous efforts to guarantee a level playing field when it comes to navigation and to slow down the vehicles to make the race safer.
Roadbooks on tablets for elite competitors
The roadbook is handed out 10 minutes (for the cars) or 20 minutes (for the motorbikes) before the start of each special to put all riders, drivers and co-drivers on an even footing when it comes to navigation. After a test run in certain stages in 2020, this time round it will be the general rule. Furthermore, crews in the car, SSV and truck categories will get a digital version of the roadbook on a tablet in their cabins, which will eventually be extended to the remaining categories.
Oral warnings and slow zones
The roadbook already highlights danger zones, but from now on competitors will also receive aural warnings in the approach to hazard level 2 and 3 zones to keep them alert. Furthermore, certain especially tricky and hazardous sectors will be categorised as "slow zones" where the speed limit is adjusted.
Spare (the) tyres
In rally raids, tyre management usually plays a decisive role and determines just how hard the competitors can push their vehicles. Each motorbike will be granted a total of six rear tyres for the entire rally.
Airbag vests now mandatory
Airbag vests, which are already in use in several road categories and in MotoGP, can reduce the severity of injury in a serious crash. Following testing and approval in the Andalucía Rally, they have been made compulsory for the motorbike and quad categories. Riders have received a list of FIM-approved manufacturers. This safety equipment will be checked during technical scrutineering.
Penalties for piston changes for motorbikes
Penalties for engine changes were introduced a few years ago to encourage bikers to ride carefully. From next year, time penalties will be applied starting from the second piston change even if the rest of the engine remains the same.
No work at refuelling stations
In line with the overarching goal of encouraging competitors to take good care of their machines, bikers will no longer be allowed to work on their motorbikes at refuelling stations. The 15-minute stoppage will be reserved for refuelling and resting.
The Dakar Experience continues
Last year, 22 vehicles crossed the finish line in Qiddiya as part of the "second-chance Dakar", which gave them the opportunity to stay in the race despite withdrawing from the general classification. The aim is to enable novice amateurs to gain experience ahead of future starts. Elite lists have been drawn up for the SSV and truck categories in 2021 to exclude from this challenge top drivers who have a real shot at winning stages