The Dakar, which is in its 43rd edition in 2021, is counting down for the start in Saudi Arabia, where the biggest and most important all-terrain event in the world has 16 Portuguese present, among the 321 registered, this year less due to the pandemic, with 108 motorcycles, 21 quads, 124 cars and SSVs, 42 trucks. 26 vehicles entered the new Dakar Classic category, which is open to cars and trucks built before the year 2000.
With the expectation of taking the whole spectacle of the rally-raids to the unique landscapes of Saudi Arabia, where sand and heat will once again be a strong opponent of the drivers and machines, the action will take place from January 3rd to 15th, throughout 12 stages, in a total of 7,646 km, in which everyone will face a new route but full of challenges in which safety, according to the organization, was more careful in order to reduce speed.
For the victory in each category, the usual suspects are aligned, however only with the course of the race will it be seen what position each one occupies, being always expected that even until the end much can happen without any predictions, but the Dakar is just like that.
With regard to the Portuguese fleet, as mentioned, there are 16 participants distributed across the various categories. On the bikes, Joaquim Rodrigues Jr. (Hero), Alexandre Azinhais (KTM), Portuguese-Germanic Sebastian Buhler (Hero) line up, debutant Rui Gonçalves, former motocross vice-champion, with a Sherco. Mário Patrão is the last minute absence for not having recovered from an injury.
In cars, Ricardo However repeats the bet with Borgward with Jorge Monteiro as navigator. In this Dakar the Luso-Lithuanian connection is strengthened since there are three pairs. Filipe Palmeiro will sail Benediktas Vanagas (Toyota Hilux), Paulo Fiúza will go alongside Vaidotas Zalas (Mini All 4 Racing) and José Manuel Marques will sail Gintas Petrus (Buggy Optimus Evo3).
On trucks, José Martins will be the only Portuguese driver driving a Team Bocou Iveco, while Nuno Fojo will be the mechanic in the Polaris assistance MAN, guided by Alberto Herrero, while Armando Loureiro is the mechanic in the Team Boucou MAN, manned by Jordi Ginesta.
In the SSV, the pairs Rui Miguel Carneiro / Filipe Serra (MMP / T3) and Lourenço Rosa / Joaquim Dias (Can-Am / T4) line up.
As has been the norm in recent years, Eurosport once again issues a daily magazine of about 30 minutes in length with the best moments of the race, with a narration in Portuguese by João Carlos Costa.
The numbers of the Portuguese
# 9 – Rui Gonçalves (Sherco)
# 24 – Sebastian Buhler (Hero)
# 27 – Joaquim Rodrigues jr. (Hero)
# 85 – Alexandre Azinhais (KTM)
# 320 – Filipe Palmeiro (navigator of Benediktas Vanagas, Toyota Hilux)
# 325 – Paulo Fiúza (Vaidotas Zala navigator, MINI All 4 Racing)
# 334 – Ricardo However / Jorge Monteiro (Borgward)
# 342 – José Manuel Marques (Petrus Gintama, MD Rally Optimus Evo3)
# 390 – Rui Carneiro / Filipe Serra (MMP) – T3
# 442 – Lourenço Rosa / Joaquim Dias (Can-Am) – T4
# 521 – Nuno Fojo (mechanic, Alberto Herreno, MAN assisting Polaris SSV)
# 542 – José Martins (Iveco, Team Boucou)
# 547 – Armando Loureiro (mechanic in the Team Boucou de Jordi Ginesta MAN)