For the second consecutive year, the 45th Dakar Rally will serve as the first race in the expanded FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), which will also include new events in Mexico and Argentina and a Moroccan finale. The W2RC will also visit Abu Dhabi and include new races in Mexico and Argentina.
In the longest Dakar in several seasons, Toyota Gazoo Racing, the X-raid Mini JCW team, Team Audi Sport, and Bahrain Raid Xtreme will compete against one another on an even playing field with the introduction of new rules and regulations and updated T1+ category vehicles.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, 2009 Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers, and South African HenkLategan will drive three of the newest T1+ specification V6 Toyota Hiluxes for Toyota Gazoo Racing, the reigning champions. Al-Attiyah has won the quadruple Dakar.
Prodrive-built Hunter In 2022, BRXs outperformed Al-Toyota, Attiyah's and the British team entered three biofuel-powered Hunters for Sébastien Loeb, a nine-time WRC champion, last year's Dakar and W2RC runner-up, Argentina's Orlando Terranova, and Rally of Morocco champion GuerlainChicherit, who is competing for GCK Motorsport.
Team Audi Sport entered the Open category in Morocco in October after working on an E2 version of the Audi RS Q e-tron outside of the limelight of international competition. Modern electric technology is featured in the vehicle, which had a successful Dakar début in 2022 by winning four stages.
Carlos Sainz, a three-time Dakar winner, will participate once more alongside StéphanePeterhansel, a 14-time event winner, and Mathias Ekström of Sweden. In 2022, Sainz and Ekström placed 12th and ninth, respectively, while Peterhansel experienced significant setbacks and withdrew from the race. The Frenchman's consolation was that he was able to match Ari Vatanen's all-time Dakar record of 49 stage victories.
The team has conducted rigorous testing all season, so the E2 e-tron is certain to be competitive right away.
Two vehicles have been submitted in the new T1+ category for Pole JakubPrzygonski and Argentine Sebastien Halpern by the X-raid Mini JCW Team's new Mini John Cooper Works Plus. They utilise fuel that is second-generation HVO.
Denis Krotov and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will operate a pair of vintage Mini John Cooper Works buggies in the meanwhile.
With six victories at the Dakar since 2012, X-raid has an impressive record:
- Peterhansel has won three times with Minis in 2012, 2013 and 2021
- Nani Roma has won once with team orders in 2014
- Al-Attiyah has won once in 2015
- Sainz has won once in 2020.
Five additional Toyota Hiluxes entered by Belgium's Overdrive Racing will strengthen Toyota Gazoo Racing's challenge. Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who won the 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, is seeded third in a team with the Dutchman Erik van Loon, Juan Cruz Yacopini of Argentina, Lionel Baud of France, and Lucas Moraes of Brazil.
While privateers from the Czech Republic MiroslavZapletal (Ford F-150) and Martin Prokop (Ford Raptor), Lithuania's BenediktasVanagas (Toyota), and French veteran Christian Lavieille (Optimus MD) are all more than capable of placing in the top 10, Century Racing has entered two CR6-Ts for Frenchman Mathieu Serradori and South Africa's Brian Baragwanath.
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