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Red Bull Desert Wings gear up for bigger, tougher and rougher 2023 Dakar
It’s time to head back to the dunes of Saudi Arabia for motorsport’s toughest test of endurance racing, the one and only Dakar Rally!
The Red Bull Desert Wings squad preparing to push themselves to the limit at the 2023 Dakar Rally include serial champions and fresh-faced talents looking to make their mark on the sands of Saudi Arabia.
The most fierce opponent anyone will face at the Dakar is the route itself – there will be nothing easy about the fourth edition of the rally to be hosted by Saudi Arabia. A Prologue Stage gets things underway on December 31 in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea. Then comes 5,000 racing kilometres spread over 14 timed special stages before the chequered flag falls at Dammam on the Arabian Gulf on January 15.
It’s the longest Dakar route since 2014, loaded with more dunes and potential pitfalls than we’ve witnessed since the rally’s relocation to the Middle East. Here are the racers, and their machines, ready to step up to the challenge of representing the Red Bull Desert Wings at the 2023 Dakar…
When looking at the contenders in the T1 Car Class the only place to start is Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT). Alongside co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA), the Qatari won the Dakar in 2022 and also the inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship. Al-Attiyah returns to Saudi Arabia behind the wheel of his Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ aiming for a fourth Dakar victory.
We’re ready to defend our title. It would be incredible to win again
Also using the Toyota Hilux T1+ will be the race crews of Giniel De Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) and Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU). The two drivers are at opposite ends of the experience spectrum with 2009 Dakar winner De Villiers gearing up for his 20th Dakar, while Moraes will make his debut at the rally in 2023.
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) finished as runner-up to Al-Attiyah at both the 2022 Dakar and the subsequent World Rally-Raid Championship. The record nine-time WRC title holder now returns in his BRX Prodrive Hunter plus co-driver Fabian Lurquin (BEL) with their eyes firmly fixed on taking the top prize this time around.
Team Audi Sport has overhauled its electrically-charged prototype for its second trip to Saudi Arabia. Looking to fight for victory in the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 will be the three-time Dakar-winning race crew of Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP).
Joining El Matador Sainz in Team Audi Sport is Monsieur Dakar himself Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), with co-driver Edouard Boulanger (FRA). 14-time Dakar champion Peterhansel once again links up with Sainz plus Mattias Ekström (SWE)/ Emil Bergkvist (SWE) in Audi’s three-pronged assault on the 2023 Dakar.
The objective has to be to fight for the victory
Another Dakar stalwart who has progressed from two wheels to four is Kuba Przygoński (POL). Przygoński maintains realistic ambitions of parking his MINI on the overall podium alongside co-driver Armand Monleon (ESP).
Spearheading the bike race over the dunes of Saudi Arabia is defending Dakar and FIM World Rally-Raid Championship winner Sam Sunderland (GBR). The British biker represents Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing as he targets a third Dakar victory.
The 2023 race is looking to be one of the toughest ever and I’m under no illusion as to what that means
Also riding with Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing is Daniel Sanders (AUS) who scored fourth place overall on his Dakar debut in 2021 to finish as the highest-placed rookie. After an injury-hit season, Sanders is getting back up to speed just in time for the biggest race of the year.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are still to taste Dakar bike race victory in Saudi Arabia, which is all the more remarkable considering that they won 18 consecutive editions of the rally before its relocation to the Middle East. Leading the charge to put the KTM 450 Rally bike back on top is two-time Dakar winner Toby Price (AUS).
The terrain in Saudi Arabia makes the rally very fast. Some stages are a sprint to the finish
Among the bike race podium contenders there’s also Štefan Svitko (SVK) on KTM machinery. A runner-up to Price in 2016, Svitko has proved he has what it takes to run with the best.
Over in the Side-by-side category of the 2023 Dakar a new collaboration between the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team and Can-Am is set to really shake things up. In the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich we find 20-year-old Seth Quintero (USA) racing a Can-Am Maverick T3 alongside co-driver Dennis Zenz (GER).
I think we’ve got a really good base and a good shot at winning Dakar this year
Joining Quintero in driving the team’s Can-Am machine is Austin ‘AJ’ Jones (USA) and his co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA). Jones was the overall winner of the T4 race at the last Dakar and finished second the year before. The third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crew of Mitch Guthrie (USA) and co-driver Kellon Walch (USA) will take charge of a T3-M by MCE5 vehicle. This machine is key to the team’s ambition of developing a hybrid vehicle in line with the latest FIA regulations for the 2024 Dakar.
Representing the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team in Saudi Arabia are three more race crews with a great shot at victory. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) and co-driver Pablo Moreno (ESP) take charge of a Can-Am Maverick for the first time at the Dakar.
The changes have been big, but I don’t mind change. We’re going to have some fun for sure
Reigning Dakar T3 champions Chaleco López (CHL) and Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) are now team-mates of Gutiérrez. Also part of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team are the crew of Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) as they look to top last year’s third-place result when they join the start line of the T4 category in 2023.
How to watch the Dakar
The Dakar Rally is a notoriously hard race to spectate, understand or even follow from afar – but don't worry, we've got you covered. First off, if you're new to the discipline, dig right into our web series, From Dawn till Dust – an exciting exploration into all things Dakar, created with new fans in mind. Once the rally starts, don't miss a stage – catch Dakar Daily for the absolute latest on what's happening on the race course. You'll get the latest on all the Red Bull Deserts Wings squad plus much, much more. Until then, get some sleep – the world's biggest cross-country rally is almost here!
Download the free Red Bull TV app and watch all the Dakar Rally action on all your devices!
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