EVENT: 2022 DAKAR RALLY
The longest race on the planet By the staff of Dirt Wheels
In its five-decade history, the Dakar Rally has fielded top riders and drivers from all over the globe to take on the two-week stage race. The U.S. fan base has grown in recent years as American competitors started entering the UTV (SSV) and ATV classes.
In 2020, the Dakar Rally found a new home in the desert of Saudi Arabia on terrain very similar to the Southwestern U.S.
Casey Currie gave Can-Am the win and was the first American to take a class title. Ricky Brabec got the win in the Motorcycle class.
Last year, Pablo Copetti was the first American to compete on an ATV and take a stage win. Polaris also brought over the American team of Wayne and Kristen Matlock, but wasn’t able to find success. In the Prototype class, Red Bull built a few small buggies and hired American hot shots Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Seth Quintero. Both had impressive drives and picked up multiple stage wins.
For the 2022 running, Copetti was back with sponsorship from the SoCal dealership powerhouse Del Amo and Yamaha. Pablo had new American fans and high hopes. Unfortunately, after running up front and getting a stage win, his engine expired with only a few days to go in the race.
Seth Quintero also had drivetrain troubles that took him out of the race for the overall win in his prototype machine. Seth did break a nearly three-decade-old record for the most stage wins in a Dakar. The kid made the best of his time in Saudi Arabia and is making a name for himself on the world stage.
However, it was the lesser-known name of Austin Jones who had a steady and almost trouble-free race, giving Can-Am another UTV (SSV) overall victory. We hope to see Jones compete in a BITD or SCORE race this season as Polaris gets ready to debut the new Pro R for the race in 2023. We are sure there will be an American and other world-class drivers going for the win in all classes.