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
Austin ‘AJ’ Jones will be looking to make it a three-peat in the Dakar’s lightweight divisions. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFG driver returns to defend his T3 title two years after winning the T4 race with co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin.
« Diagnosing situations quickly and coming up with solutions is key at a race like the Dakar Rally. » – Austin ‘AJ’ Jones
Finishing the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship stronger than most were Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch in their MCE5 machine. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFG duo won rallies in Mexico and Argentina before ending the year as runners-up to team-mate Quintero.
Driving a MCE5 in the T3 category for Wevers Sport at the next Dakar is Saudi Arabian driver Dania Akeel. She finished 8th on her Dakar debut in 2022 and has her sights set even higher for 2024.
« Racing Rallye du Maroc was a great opportunity for me to get know the car and the team. I’ll benefit from this experience for the upcoming Dakar. » – Dania Akeel
The three race crews representing the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team include Dakar winning experience and world titles across the T3 and T4 categories. Don’t be surprised to see Chaleco López/Juan Pablo Latrach, Rokas Baciuška/Oriol Vidal and Cristina Gutiérrez/Pablo Moreno all hunting down big prizes when we reach the business end of the 2024 Dakar.
« The idea is to keep improving and arrive at the Dakar in the best possible conditions. » – Chaleco López
The Dakar’s fifth edition in Saudi Arabia will get started on January 5 before the chequered flag flies on January 19, 2024. The 5,000 kilometres of racing distance spread across 12 timed special stages departs from the thousand-year-old city of Al Ula, crossing the country in the direction of the Empty Quarter desert and finishing in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea.
Seth Quintero: « I’ve been working so hard for so long, I’ve been racing since I was 10 years old. It’s been a long road to get here, I’ve been doing rally for quite a while now. Getting to the T1+ class has always been the dream. »
Lucas Moraes: « We still have legends in the rally and they are still driving really, really fast. I think the type of racing that we do at the Dakar requires experience. This next Dakar will be a great race, our young team up against the older guys. I think we can do something special. »
Nasser Al-Attiyah: « 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. I think after three trips already to the Dakar and two second place finishes, now it’s time for the Hunter car to win the Dakar. »
Carlos Sainz: « 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. As drivers we respect each other a lot because we know how much we are giving, how much we are pushing, the risks we are taking. »
Stéphane Peterhansel: « It really would be a dream to win the next Dakar with this special Audi car. I’m going there expecting a good result. It will not be easy because we are up against so many high-level competitors. »
Kevin Benavides: « I’ve been recovering from my injury and getting back on the bike. I’m working hard in the weeks before this next Dakar to make sure I’m physically 100% for the rally. »
Toby Price: « I’m definitely excited to race another Dakar with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. I’ve been racing for KTM for 15 years now and for the factory since 2015, so it feels great to be able to race the biggest, toughest rally for them once again. »
Sam Sunderland: « My year hasn’t been the best and I’m looking to turn that around and get things working in the right direction towards the Dakar. »
Austin Jones: « I talk with my engineers and mechanics daily at the Dakar to get as much information as I can. Diagnosing situations quickly and coming up with solutions is key at a race like the Dakar Rally. »
Dania Akeel: « Racing Rallye du Maroc was a great opportunity for me to get know the car and the team. I can only benefit from this experience for the upcoming Dakar. »
Chaleco López: « Last time out the sensations were good and the car ran well. The idea is to keep improving and arrive at the Dakar in the best possible conditions. »