Changing the capacity of the motorcycles isn’t the only change for this year’s Dakar Rally. In addition to downsizing to 450s, there has also been a change in the regulations that will make navigation more critical to a rider’s performance.
Although this may not come into play until things get a bit more difficult – especially when the riders hit the sand dunes for the first time – the change comes in the amount of time a rider will have to react to navigational changes. Whereas in prior Dakar Rallies the GPS systems would let riders know when they were within three kilometers, or 1.9 miles, of a waypoint and would even indicate the necessary direction with an arrow, the radius of recognition has been reduced to just 800 meters, or less than half a mile, leaving much more room for error if riders aren’t paying attention to their road books.
After each stage the riders’ GPS are checked by organizers to confirm that those riders have all passed the waypoints; and there are heavy time penalties for those who miss a designated waypoint.