DAKAR 2022 — SAUDI ARABIA
In its third outing in Saudi Arabia, Dakar Rally continues to explore new landscapes with an even more substantial presence of sand in the special stages. Whether on the tracks or surfing vast chains of dunes, the riders, drivers and crews will go head to head on all sorts of sandy terrain, knowing that the nuances of navigation in Saudi Arabia, where competitors have to avoid losing their bearings in a hodgepodge of tracks, are a real game-changer in the battle for the top honors. This year’s edition has 12 stages and over 5000 miles of rally raid competition starting on January 1st through January 14th.
WHO TO WATCH
Method will be well represented at the 2022 Dakar Rally with top riders and drivers in the sport running the Method mantra…
LIGHTER. STRONGER. FASTER
Toyota Gazoo Racing will be entering a four-car team for the 2022 edition of the Dakar Rally. This team will again be spear-headed by 2019 Dakar Rally winners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel, with Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy assisting in the attack. Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel are fresh from victory at the Hail International Rally, which also secured them the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, making them the clear favourites to win the 2022 Dakar. Nasser and Mathieu sealed the World Cup victory after winning four of this year’s six events, including the Andalusia Rally, Rally of Morocco, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and the Hail International Rally. The pair elected to sit out two rounds, due to prior commitments, effectively winning every round they entered.
While the World Cup was won using the previous specification Toyota Hilux, the team will be fielding the all-new Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ at the Dakar Rally, which will be the car’s maiden international outing with the team. The new car features the twin turbo V6 petrol engine from the new Toyota Land Cruiser, together with 17” Method 207 Forged Bead Grip® wheels, 37” tires, a new single-shock suspension system with more travel, and a bold new look.
UTV (SSV T4) racer Austin “AJ” Jones placed eighth on his first attempt in 2020, second in 2021 after leading the race four days before the finish, Jones’ star continues to rise and his upward momentum makes him and his co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin the favorites for 2022. The talented American is still only 25 years old, yet off-road racing runs in Austin's blood; his father Jesse has been competing in desert events for the past 20 years and runs the Jones Motorsport team. AJ spent his childhood learning the ins and outs of racing, although it was only in 2018 that he got behind the wheel himself, after spending a year as his dad's co-driver. In his first full season, Austin teamed up with Bryce Swaim and they took the SCORE International championship by storm, claiming victories at the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in the TT Spec class. He took his first steps in rally raid towards the end of 2018 and quickly made his mark. Having just ticked the FIM T4 World Cup off his wish list and becoming the first American to complete the feat, Austin is now ready to get onto the top step of the podium in his class at Dakar using the 407 Bead Grip® Wheel as the weapon of choice.
It has been an intense career so far for our guy Ricky Brabec, signed up for his first Dakar Rally at just 24 years of age. Ricky does however, have a lengthy list of titles to back him up; the youth from the U.S. had his best season to date in 2014, when he achieved the three most prestigious titles in desert racing: the Hare & Hound, Best in the Desert and Score, collecting the Baja 1000, Baja 500 and the Baja 250. Such an impressive list didn’t go unnoticed to Team HRC who scouted young Brabec before inviting him to take part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in early 2015, his first international participation, where he was the top Junior and fifth overall. After an injury, he returned to the Hare & Hound, winning the last race. In the Dakar Rally, the big adventure, makes a very good progression from it’s first rally showing his great potential in South America to the best of results, winning the 2020 edition and making history for the American motorsport: the first American to win the Dakar Rally.
Toby Price showed impressive pace at the 2021 Dakar Rally, but was frustratingly forced to retire following a crash on stage 9, which caused a year of disruption. Following three separate surgeries, Price has largely stayed away from competition, spending time on his bike at home in Australia during the second half of the season, before joining the team later in the year to test and develop the new KTM 450 RALLY. Contesting the Rallye du Maroc in October, he put in five solid days of racing, also taking the time to further improve the set-up of the new machine through the Moroccan dunes in preparation for Dakar. Happy with his own performance, and that of the bike, Toby will be looking to make amends for his 2021 Dakar disappointment and claim his third title at the 2022 event.