Between January 1-14, 2022, the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally was organised by Amaury Sport Organization and hosted in Saudi Arabia for the third time, and supported by Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

The race began in Ha’il and finished in Jeddah, traversing through the Neom region’s gorges and cliffs, along the Red Sea coast, and across stretches of dunes encircling Riyadh, with the sand dunes on Empty Quarter providing most of the action. The course featured one prologue stage and twelve regular stages spanning over 8000 km in total.

Recapping some of the Dakar Rally 2022 Highlights in the Cars Category:

Toyota Gazoo Team’s Proudly South African Hilux Takes The Win

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mattieu Baumel were not the first vehicles to cross the finish line. Still, nevertheless, the Team in a South African built Hilux secured a fourth championship in the cars category in a dominating performance.

Podium: A Close Contest For Second Between Toyota Gazoo And Bahrain Raid Xtreme

Being the winner in the crowd favourite category is a coveted position, but it is by no means an easy feat. Al-Attiyah has buckled under pressure before, but this year he and co-driver Baumel delivered a brilliant effort. The Qatari was determined to take the lead from the offset and succeeded in winning the two specials (1A and 1B) at the start of the race.

51-year-old Al-Attiyah claimed his fourth Dakar championship, completing the final stage 12 minutes and seven seconds faster than second-place Bahrain Raid Xtreme Team: Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin. The Team faltered in stage 3 due to a damaged driveshaft, resulting in a 50-minute disadvantage by the time rest day had arrived on the 8th of January. Despite this, the race for top spot remained tight between the two teams.

Yazeed Al Rajhi of Saudi Arabia and co-driver Michael Orr finished in third place, 1 hour, 1 minute and 13 seconds behind the leaders.

Notable Difficulties And Achievements

  • Audi Sport was off to a troubling start in the first stages, with Carlos Sainz making disastrous navigation errors and Stephane Peterhansel losing one of his rear wheels, paying an exceptionally high penalty in order to continue his Dakar journey.
  • South African driver Henk Lategan for Toyota Gazoo Racing also suffered a similar loss, suffering a puncture and losing one of his rear wheels at 142km of Stage 1B. However, a notable mention goes to the highest-ranking South African: 23-year old Bradley Cox, who finished in 23rd position – which is admirable considering this year was his first entry into the gruelling race and only second rally raid yet.
  • Benediktas Vanagas and Filipe Palmeiro of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics team had one of the worst outings of the 2022 Dakar, with the pair’s vehicle taking flight and flipping head over heels in Stage 4.
  • SWR Raid Lynx Team drivers Pélichet jérôme Larroque Pascal had the only no-start withdrawal in the cars category with their car failing to start at stage 1B.

Looking To The Future

All eyes will be on French sportscar manufacturer ORECA who are endeavouring to participate in the 2023 Dakar Rally with a hybrid rally raid prototype. ORECA is following several teams’ footsteps in pursuing new technologies for cross-country rallying, as the 2024 Dakar is set to move towards alternative energy regulations.

Notably, Audi has adopted these new regulations, debuting its electric RS Q e-Tron this year. Prodrive’s Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK teams implemented the use of biofuel for their 2022 vehicles, with the GCK teams’ goal to develop a hydrogen-powered car for the 2024 Rally.