Dakar Rally Categories

14th February 2019
Learn about all of the categories in the legendary Dakar Rally and what the differences are between them.

The Dakar Rally gives us spectacular and dangerous images every year, year after year. This rally, which has followers in every corner of the planet, is a challenge. Today, we are going to delve into the categories that comprise the Dakar Rally. How are they divided? How many are there? What requirements must be fulfilled?

The Dakar Rally comprises of five categories: bikes, cars, trucks, quads, and UTVs. Within each, a separation is established depending on whether it’s a professional or private team and whether the vehicle is standard or modified. Once this first differentiation is made, we will go into each category and get to know each of them in depth.

Bikes

This category is the most crowded one in the Dakar because competing in it’s substantially cheaper than in the rest. In addition, as experts say, the real Dakar Rally is the one on two wheels. Nor should we forget that it’s the most dangerous way to run the Dakar since the drivers lack a vehicle that protects them, a co-pilot or other help.

Motorcycle in Dakar Rally.

The limit of bikes that can participate is set at 250, in the last edition 168 competed, which represented 30 percent of the total number of participants.

Within this category, there are two types of bikes: super production and marathon. The first one is specifically prepared for the competition and the second one is a series of enduro type, that is to say, they are sold to the public. Both must have an engine with a maximum of 450 cubic centimeters.

Historically the most outstanding pilots in this category are, the Frenchman Cyril Depres, winner of five editions and the Spaniard Marc Coma. Marc is the current sporting director for the Dakar Rally.

Cars

In the category of trucks, which is divided into three subcategories we find pilots such as Nani Roma, Peterhansel and Loeb:

  • T1: vehicles modified specifically for the Dakar Rally. They are giant brands with large budgets. They can be a 4-wheel drive or two-wheel drive vehicle.
  • T2: series vehicles, that is, vehicles for sale to the general public. In turn, it’s broken down into diesel or gasoline T2 vehicles.
  • T3: lightweight prototypes. Within this category, there’s a difference between those with a power greater than 1050 cc and if the engine type is naphtha.

Trucks

Unknown and spectacular in equal parts, the category of trucks has existed since 1999. Although, these types of vehicles competed previously within the group of cars with a denomination of heavy vehicles.

Truck in Dakar Rally.

These giants must have a power of between 700 and 1,000 hp and their speed is limited to 87 miles per hour and their weight to a minimum of 18,740 pounds.

In this category, the Kamaz, (the Russian brand of trucks), are the kings. Year after year they have remained the main favorites. In addition, other brands such as IVECO or MAN also compete.

Quads

Also called quadricycles, this category has been counting on a greater number of participants in recent years, reaching 40 in the last edition of the Rally.

Quad in Dakar Rally.

Within the quads, a differentiation is established depending on whether they have two or four motor wheels, the limit of 750 ccs for the first and 900 ccs for the second. In addition, this category has the particularity that both the chassis and the engine must be standard parts, that is, that can be acquired by the general public.

The brothers Patronelli, Ignacio Casale and Rafal Sönik are among the most outstanding drivers in this category.

UTVs

This category is only one year old and we can define it as an intermediate between cars and quads. This is because its size and power are between the two. They are relatively cheap vehicles comprising simple mechanics with a power lower than 1050 hp.

UTV in Dakar Rally.

In the last edition, ten drivers debuted in this modality, of which Torres, a Brazilian, was the winner.