Dakar Rally 2023: Checking out the action live in Saudi Arabia

From observing all the action via pictures on a screen to actually witnessing the methodic off-road madness in person, check out our experience of watching the 2023 Dakar Rally live.

By Divyank K. Bansal | on February 2, 2023 Follow us on Autox Google News

From observing all the action via pictures on a screen to witnessing the methodic off-road madness in person, here’s my experience of watching the 2023 Dakar Rally live.

Every once in a while, sitting behind the wheel of my ordinary car (sorry, Volkswagen!) in everyday traffic, I feel a pretty big urge to hop into a 4x4 vehicle instead, fitted with outrageously big wheels and trick suspension, something akin to the vehicles used in, say, the Dakar Rally, which would allow me to drive over pretty much any obstacle and simply glide past the standing traffic. Alas, wishful thinking.

2023 Audi Dakar Experience 6

Oh, and speaking of the Dakar Rally, those of you who might have gone through autoX’s previous magazine issue, the motorsport section in particular, would remember a certain mention of Dakar and a forthcoming ‘surprise‘ related to it. Well, the time has come to reveal it. The above-mentioned wishful thinking turned into a sight of pure awe and disbelief for me, as last month, Audi India took a select group of journos to Saudi Arabia to catch this year’s Dakar Rally live in action. And guess what, I was a part of that teeny-tiny group.

Also Read: MotoGP 2022: Watching the Malaysian GP live at Sepang!

That Feeling

Now, before I delve any deeper into my experience, I would like to begin by stating that absolutely NOTHING prepares you, or your senses, for watching a 19-tonne truck whizz right past you at about 100km/h! And if you happen to be an observer on level land, especially on a turn, well, pray you’re carrying spare trousers! While most vehicle categories – Cars, Motorcycles, Buggies, and Quads – followed a fairly predictable path, it was the vicious trucks of Dakar that were more than capable of scaring the bejesus out of you. But don’t take this the wrong way. I simply could not figure out any other way of putting through this feeling.

2023 Audi Dakar Experience 20

Time to Drive

No, not the Dakar vehicles. Instead, folks from Audi had brought in their off-road-spec Q5s for us to drive around a curated route through the dunes. Armed with BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres, Recaro bucket seats, an FIA-spec roll cage, a four-point safety harness, and modified suspension, these Q5s were anything but ordinary. Fitted with 261bhp petrol engines, performance was aplenty. But sadly, the speed at which Audi allowed us to drive probably only used about a tenth of the horsepower available. But the course was not as much about speed as it was about taking on fairly challenging obstacles in the purpose-built Q5s. And, predictably, the cars performed exceptionally well.

2023 Audi Dakar Experience 17

Also Read: Hero MotoSports reveals rider lineup for Dakar 2023

The Bivouac

Heard of the phrase, ‘man-made wonder‘? Well, the Dakar bivouacs (temporary camps) are exactly that. Six of these, each one spanning over 50 acres, are supposed to provide all overnight stay and accommodation facilities for the entire Dakar bandwagon (3,500 people each day) – teams, mechanics, all vehicles, organisers, and support staff – for the duration of the event. And guess what, all bivouacs have to move around with the rally, and each one can take up to 10-12 days to set up. Hence the multiplicity. Walking through one of these, especially after sundown, gives you a very good idea about the sheer scale of the logistics involved, and definitely, a new-found respect for not just competitors but also the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) – organisers of the Dakar.

2023 Audi Dakar Experience 11

And if you think this is all that Dakar has to offer, well, I’ve only scratched the surface. From writing stage reports using the daily updates to witnessing Dakar live, my experience was nothing short of surreal. The toughest rally raid on the planet is also perhaps the purest expression of motorsport and the truest form of the indomitable spirit that comes with it. It's quite difficult to put all my emotions into words here, but all I can do right now is thank Audi India, Audi Sport and the hospitable ASO folks for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

2023 Audi Dakar Experience 14

Tags: Dakar Rally 2023 Dakar Rally Audi India Audi ASO

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