Since its first running in 1978 between Paris and the seaside Senegalese city that gave the race its name, the Dakar rally has hosted competitors from across motorsport driving some of the most unique and imaginative vehicles ever to race. The race may take place in Saudi Arabia only now, but a new Classic category will bring some of its past back to life next year.
That’s right, starting with the 2021 running of the Dakar Rally, a new classic category will allow drivers to enter classic cars, trucks, and buggies built from 1978 through 2000 that either competed in the race or would have been eligible for competition. Replicas will be allowed as well, allowing the class to feature vehicles that have been lost to time or collision since the first competed.
That means that legendary vehicles like the Rothmans Porsche 959 Dakar, the Mitsubishi Pajero Evo, the Fanta-liveried Nissan Patrol, this monster dual-engined Renault 5 6×6 and others will be eligible for participation. I’m sure you all know plenty more examples that you’ll mention in the comments. Please do.
What I’ve read so far hasn’t mentioned motorcycles, but hopefully, the class will be open to classic bikes as well.
Goodwood reports that the class won’t run an identical route to the actual competition, but start and finish lines will be the same and the action will take place alongside the regular race when it runs next January.
Classic classes in rallies have existed for a good while now, with the Rallye Monte-Carlo Classique being the most prominent among them. We covered the action there earlier this year, where Alpines, Porsche 911s, Lancia Stratoses, and all manner of beautiful historical artifacts brought heritage and heat to the hills around Monte Carlo. Seeing similarly legendary metal (and fibreglass) flying off dunes this winter ought to be even more exhilarating.
When this spirit comes to Saudi Arabia next year, we’ll be watching closely and will have more to share with you. Much more.