The Dakar Rally and the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship will see a bold, new set of safety regulations aimed at “significantly reducing speed and increasing safety for riders” from 2021...

Following a meeting held in Lisbon on March 3 between the Cross-Country Rally teams, Dakar Rally organisers A.S.O. and motorcycle sport’s governing body the FIM, new sporting rules and safety measures have been announced for the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship and 2021 Dakar Rally.

The issues of rider safety have been on the agenda for many years but a high number of incidents at the 2020 Dakar Rally, many of which were very serious including the sad passing of Paulo Goncalves, has led to more immediate and definite action.

Technical and Safety improvements for 2021

  • Limitation of the number of rear tyres to 6 for the 12 stages (30 min penalties for non-compliance). For shorter rallies: 1 tyre for 2 Days of racing. For example, a rally consisting of 1 Prologue and 5 days, the limitation will be 3 tyres. 
  • Single brand and model of rear tyre for the entire rally (1 hour penalty for non-compliance) 
  • Possibility to change only one piston during the entire rally (10 min penalties for non-compliance) 
  • No intervention on the motorcycle allowed during refuelling (only the road book dispenser can be opened to change the road book if necessary). 
  • Sound alert on danger 2 and 3 (will be tested in Rally Morocco in 2020) using the sentinel. 
  • Wearing of an Air Bag Vest equipped with passive safety paddings is mandatory. 
  • Work on the itinerary: search for the slowest possible route, setting up slow zones if the ground is poor and fast especially in the HP zones, more WPs on the risk points. 
  • First aid training certificate compulsory for all motorcycle riders.

Additional safety measures to also apply for Elite riders (RallyGP Riders)

  • Navigation tower protected by foam for Elite riders (RallyGP Riders), especially the road book reader, best practice in order to reduce impact to the rider. 
  • Detachable front windscreen, in case of impact by the rider (mandatory for Elite riders (RallyGP Riders) in 2021 Dakar rules).

No engine power reduction with air-intake restrictors that require an ECU re-setting will be done for the 2021 season. Engine development will be done until the end of 2021 for the reduction of the power of the machines.

Electronic road book will be tested in 2021 and should be implemented in 2022.

All these measures taken alone may seem minimal, but when taken together they can significantly reduce the speed and increase the safety of the riders.

Photo Credit: J Tomaselli