Dakar Rally 2022 Preview: No clear favourite in cars

The Dakar Rally 2022 is already upon us! The 44th edition of the legendary raid, which is taking place from the 2 to the 14 of January in Saudi Arabia for the third consecutive year, appears more uncertain than ever before. 

There is in fact no clear favourite among the 96 cars which will be taking the start next Sunday in Jeddah.  

The latest winners of the desert rally, Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz, will face a herculean challenge behind the controls of the new Audi RS Q e-tronn Quattro hybrid, a technological milestone in the history of the speciality.  

Another of the great Dakar winners, Nasser Al-Attiyah, will also arrive in Jeddah with very few testing kilometres under his belt with the new engine of his Toyota Hilux. 

Sebastien Loeb and Nani Roma, for their part, will try and take their BRX Hunter T1+ to the top of the podium at this their second entry with Bahrain Raid Extreme at the Dakar Rally 2022.  

To make things even more exciting and challenging, the regulatory changes which are coming into effect in 2022 will blur the distance between buggies and T1s (modified vehicles). 

Peterhansel & Sainz face a brand-new challenge with Audi 

The arrival of Audi with their hybrid (electric) vehicle will be the greatest novelty of this Dakar Rally 2022. Championing a new technological project in the toughest race on the planet, however, represents an extraordinary challenge. 

The team of the four rings has recruited two legends of the discipline, triple winner Carlos Sainz and fourteen-time champ (8 in cars category) Stephane Peterhansel, to undertake such arduous enterprise.

Aware of the complexity of their new adventure both drivers have dedicated a considerable amount of time and effort in the development of the RS Q e-tron Quattro and carried out numerous tests in Europe, including Spain, and in Africa (Morocco).

In this way they have attempted to compensate for the lack of in-race experience with their new vehicle. 

The Swede Mattias Ekström, two-time World Rallycross (World RX) champion and two-time DTM champion, will complete the trident of the German team. 


Toyota: Al-Attiyah’s Hilux new engine 

The three-time Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah will once again be the strong man of Toyota GAZOO Racing. The Qatari will seat behind the wheel of the GR DKR Hilux T1 +.

The Japanese rocket has been developed almost entirely by his teammate Giniel de Villiers for the Dakar Rally 2022. Thankfully, the South African will be able to take the start in Jeddah, after overcoming COVID-19. 

Under the hood of the Hilux lies its greatest development, a 3.5-liter V6 biturbo gasoline engine (Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR-S) which will replace Lexus’ naturally aspirated V8, that was used in previous seasons. But that is not all, Nasser and Giniel will also have to get used to the new suspensions, tires and track widths. 


Loeb & Roma: After the glory in their 2nd year with BRX  

The Bahrain Raid Xtreme, having left the difficulties inherent to its youth behind, will enter the Dakar for the second consecutive year with very ambitious objectives. The team, which is managed by Prodrive, will seek victory with the BRX Hunter T1 +, an evolution of its predecessor, the BRX Hunter T1. 

The road to Jeddah, however, has not been an easy one. Its debut was delayed after a fire in the vehicle resulted in burns to one of their mechanics. 

The incident prevented them from taking part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. To compensate for this, they have tested for hundreds of kilometres on terrains similar to those that they will encounter at the Dakar Rally 2022. 

Accompanying team stars Sebastien Loeb and Nani Roma will be the speedy Argentine Orlando ‘Orly’ Terranova, completing the line-up of the Bahrain team. This is the only team maintaining last year’s engine, but with a new biofuel. 

Images of Dakar Rally 2022: Audi Sport.

Leave a Reply