The Most Challenging Race Returns: Here’s the 2022 Dakar Rally Preview

Audi RS Q e-tron will compete at the 2022 Dakar rally (Image: Audi)

The 2022 Dakar Rally begins on Saturday, January 1, 2022, and will run for 14 days. It begins and ends in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 Dakar promises to be packed with tons of action, coming from new and old machines. In this post, we’ll highlight the route, classes, and notable participants competing in the 2022 Dakar. This is the 44th edition of the Dakar, which has made Saudi Arabia its home for the past few years.

The 2022 Dakar Rally route:

Starting in Jeddah, the first qualifying stage heads to Ha’il. After a loop, the race heads to Al Artawiyah. Several loops go in and through Riyadh before heading to Al Dawadimi. After a loop through Wadi Ad-Dawasir, the race loops through Bisha before ending in Jeddah.

We will post separate stories on various classes leading up to, and through the race. The big news this year revolves around the return of champions, new vehicles, and old rivals.

Here are the classes for the 2022 Dakar Rally.

Image: Toyota GR


This might be one of the most competitive Dakars in years – with new technology and old grudges as raw as desert sunburn, it will be a sight to behold. The new hybrid-electric Audi RS Q e-Tron promises to be a harbinger of the future, while Toyota strikes back in an all-new Hilux (powered by their new factory-built twin-turbo/hybrid V6). On top of that, Prodrive and Mini return as well. It’s going to be epic!

Image: Kamaz Trucks


Can the Russian dominance continue? Returning with the new Kamaz K5, 2021 champion Dmitry Sotnikov returns with his winning team. Big things are expected of the K5 team, but former champion Eduard Nikolaev is making his comeback… and he’s not used to losing.

Image: Honda Racing


Returning favorites and impressive rookies fill the bill. There are (currently) 168 competitors that have qualified to compete, including returning bike champion Kevin Benavides.

Image: TFLoffroiad


The Dakar Quad class is dominated by South American competitors. Team Yamaha’s 2021 Dakar champion Manuel Andújar from Lobos, Argentina returns to defend his title.

Image: Redbull racing


The side-by-side class is rapidly growing into one of the more popular classes in Dakar.

Light Prototype

The Light Prototype class is like the SSV on steroids. These vehicles have factory backing, and unique platforms – mixed with factory running gear. Our friend Camelia Liparoti will once again race for the X-Raid Team in a Yamaha-powered (XZ 1000R Rally Edition) side-by-side. Spain’s Xavier Blanco is her newest co-driver. We wish her luck!

Yes, the Porsche 959 will compete! (Image:


This year marks the return of the Dakar “Classic” race.  Vehicles from before the year 2000, that have (or could have) participated in Dakar can compete against each other. This is a separate class and a slightly different race. They will take on many of the same routes as the main competitors, but not at the same time. This was a massively popular class last year, and there have been some rule changes made since. We will cover the Dakar Classic group in an upcoming post.


The 2022 Dakar Rally begins on Saturday, January 1, 2022 – until Stage 12 on Friday, January 14.

Stay tuned for several updates and posts over the next few weeks!

Speaking of Porsches going off-road…

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.