Stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally will take riders from Jeddah to Bisha.

There is a 311km liaison, 276km special stage with 3 checkpoints, and finally a 35km trip into the bivouac.

Riders can expect a varied stage, that is demanding in both navigation and riding.

The special stage will be held entirely on tracks of sand and soil, but the riders briefing suggested there will be small sections (around 3%) of stoney surface. Competitors have been warned of the risk of punctures in the stoney sections and to stay on the centre of tracks  because of heavy ruts on the edges.

The main navigation challenge lies in the numerous intersections riders will face and the risk of choosing the wrong track.

Riders will be able to refuel at the beginning of the special stage and again at checkpoint 3, 177km into the special stage.

101 bikes are expected to start Stage 1.

After yesterday’s Prologue, Coca-Cola Nomadas rider Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM 450 RFR) will start from 97th position at 5:52am local time (1:58pm AEDT).

His team mate Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM 450 RFR) will start 14 minutes earlier at 5.38am.

You can follow Andrew and Pablo’s progress live here.