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Dakar Rally to become safer for riders

25th Mar 2020 6:00 am

The revisions could see the introduction of a speed limit, power restrictions and changes to the infamous roadbook; airbag-enabled vests across all classes may also be on the cards.

The organisers of the Dakar Rally and the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) are discussing measures to make future iterations of the rally safer for motorcycle riders. Talks are on to impose power and speed restrictions, improved kit for the riders, and changes to the navigation system.

The suggestions have been put forth after the 2020 Dakar Rally saw multiple serious crashes and two riders, Paulo Gonçalves and Edwin Straver, tragically losing their lives.

The safety measures that have been put on the table include rerouting stages of the rally to reduce the high speeds – upwards of 180kph – that the bikes are capable of on the dirt. In addition to this, we could also see the power of the bikes restricted to further reduce the risks that the high speeds entail.

The move could also see airbag-enabled vests become mandatory for riders, regardless of the riding class. The organisers plan to hold meetings with manufacturers prior to next year’s event and tailor the kit to meet the required safety standards.

The last and most significant of the suggested changes could see the race doing away with roadbooks, an age-old navigation system that requires riders to manually scroll through the handlebar-mounted system. In its place, we could see a more modern-day setup that will offer visual and audible warnings to the rider, allowing them to maintain their focus on the road ahead, and not on turning the page of their roadbook. This will come as a huge change to the way riders prepare for the rally. We’re still waiting on more details as to how exactly this new system will work.

What do you think of these proposed changes? A quest for a safer rally without the risk of riders seriously injuring themselves is something we all want, but do you think the speed limits will curb the excitement that the world’s hardest off-road race brings? Let us know below.

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